Come, labor on, #541

# 541 Come, labor on

Words:  Jane L. Bostwick

Music:  Ora Labora by Thomas Noble

come labor on.jpg

 Jane L. Borthwick (b. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1813; d. Edinburgh, 1897) wrote this text and published it in her Thoughts for Thoughtful Hours (1859) in seven, six-line stanzas. Borthwick revised the text into its present five-line form and published that version in her Thoughts for Thoughtful Hours of 1863. The Psalter Hymnal includes stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 6 from her revised version. Inspired by the gospel parables that liken the coming of God's kingdom to the sowing of seed and harvesting of grain (see Matt. 9:37-38; Matt. 13; John 4:35-38), the text calls us to work for God's cause even in the face of Satan's opposition. Because our earthly time is limited, we must use our resources wisely and be diligent in our kingdom tasks until we hear the final “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). Borthwick was a member of the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland and had a strong interest in the church's mission work. She also supported Moravian missions in Labrador, Canada, and was involved in social service work in Edinburgh. Both Jane and her younger sister Sarah Findlater Borthwick (PHH 333) are well-known translators of German chorales.

Thomas Tertius Nobel (1867-1953) was born in Bath, England, educated at the Royal College of Music, and was a noted composer and organist. He served as a church organist in Cambridge and Colchester. He moved to Ely Cathedral in 1892 as organist and choir­master, and in 1898 to York Minster, where he founded the York Symphony Orchestra, directed the York Musical Society, conducted the York Pageant, and revived the York Music Festival after a lapse of 75 years. He became an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Organists in 1905. In 1913, he moved to New York City, where he was organist at St. Tho­mas’ Episcopal Church, and established its choir school and a boys’ choir. In addition to composing, he wrote about music education, and helped ed­it the 1916 Protestant Episcopal hymnal, and served on the music committee that prepared its 1940 successor. He wrote a wide range of music, but only his services, anthems and hymn tunes are still performed regularly. Died: May 4, 1953, Rock­port, Mass­a­chu­setts

Enjoy this magnificent organ and strong congregational signing:  Gerre Hancock (1934-2012), Organist & Master of Choirsters at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue plays "Come, Labor On", a hymn so closely associated with St. Thomas, and improvises the voluntary on his last Sunday at St. Thomas Church, the Feast of Corpus Christi 2004.  YOUTUBE

God of Grace and God of Glory, #594

# 594     God of Grace and God of Glory


Author:                Harry Emerson Fosdick

Tune:                    CWM RHONDDA

Composer:          John Hughes


Harry E. Fosdick was a well-known and controversial preacher in the early twentieth century. After Fosdick left his positon at one church, John D. Rockefeller asked him to become pastor of Park Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, but Fosdick thought the church was too wealthy, and agreed only on condition that a new church would be built in a less fashionable place. The site selected for Riverside Church was on the banks of the Hudson, not far from Harlem. Fosdick wrote this hymn at his summer home in Maine in 1930 for the opening service of Riverside Church that fall. It was sung as the processional hymn for that service on October 5 and again at the dedication service on February 8, 1931. The first publication was in Praise and Service by H. Augustine Smith in 1932.

This hymn is a prayer for God's help for the church to live in God's power and love with generosity and progress toward social justice. Each stanza concludes with a two-line petition for wisdom and courage that was originally meant to be sung to one musical phrase. However, when it is sung to CWM RHONDDA, the final line of each stanza must be repeated to extend the text to fit the tune. This results in a needless repetition of the second part of the petition.

CWM RHONDDA is a well-known Welsh tune. It was written in 1907 by John Hughes, a Welshman who spent most of his life as a railway worker. The tune name literally means “Rhondda valley,” after the Rhondda River that flows through a coal-mining district of Wales. This tune has great vigor, and was at first circulated only in leaflet form because hymnal editors considered it too vigorous to be a proper hymn tune. They eventually succumbed to popular pressure, and since the 1930s the tune has been included in many hymnals, often with multiple texts, [most notably Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah].

Fosdick did not like the use of this tune for his text, having written it specifically to fit the three phrases of the tune REGENT SQUARE. When asked about the tune change, he wrote, “My secretary has already written you the answer to your question about my hymn's divorce from 'Regent Square' [familiar to us as the tune for the Christmas carol Angels from the Realms of Glory] and remarriage to 'Cwm Rhondda.' The Methodists did it! And both here and abroad they are being followed” (quoted in Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Paul Westermeyer, p. 562).

Here is a rousing rendition for you from a performance at Manchester United Church. I’m sorry I can’t tell you what city/town.   Enjoy. YOUTUBE

O Worship the King, all glorious above, #388

# 388   O Worship the King, all glorious above

Text:  Robert Grant



Composer:  William Croft

From Hymnary. Org


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” These may be some of the best-known words in the Bible, but in 1835, Robert Grant wrote a text that helps us see the creation story in a new light. His meditation on the creation theme of Psalm 104 consists of six verses that parallel the six days of creation. But rather than simply paraphrase the psalm or the first two books of the Bible, Grant focuses on how creation is a testimony to God’s “measureless might.” And Grant’s beautiful text doesn’t stop at Genesis Two. Rather, in the fourth and fifth verse we celebrate God’s saving grace to his creation. When God took that seventh day of rest, he was not signaling an end. He continued to bless His creation, even those as feeble and frail as us. In the last verse, Grant points to Christ as the ultimate reconciler of a broken, but still beautiful creation. An original last stanza that we no longer sing reads, “The humbler creation, though feeble their lays, with true adoration shall lisp to Thy praise.”

Albert Bailey wrote of this text: “It is no small accomplishment to combine, as this hymn does, the majestic, the tender, and a smooth-flowing poetical rendering” (Gospel in Hymns, 182). The text has not been changed much from Grant’s original. Some verses are not included in all hymnals – unlike most hymnals, the Psalter Hymnal leaves out the original third stanza, which reads, “The earth with its store of wonders untold, Almighty, thy power hath founded of old; hath ‘stablished it fast by a changeless decree, and round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.” The Psalter Hymnal does, however, include a verse many hymnals leave out, beginning “O measureless Might.”

William Croft was a boy chorister in the Chapel Royal in London and then an organist at St. Anne's, Soho. Later he became organist, composer, and master of the children of the Chapel Royal, and eventually organist at Westminster Abbey. He contributed psalm tunes to The Divine Companion (1707) and to the Supplement to the New Version of Psalms by Dr. Brady and Mr. Tate (1708), which included HANOVER. These tunes mark a new development in English psalm tunes. HANOVER was printed anonymously, but William Croft is generally credited with its composition. The name derives from the House of Hanover, the family of King George III.

Here’s a rousing rendition from Belfast, Ireland. YOUTUBE

Sing my soul, his wondrous love, #467

# 467 Sing, my soul, his wondrous love

Words:  Anonymous

Music: St. Bees, by John Bacchus Dykes

bumble bee.jpg

 I chose this hymn because who doesn’t like a tune called St. Bees? St Bees is a coastal village, civil parish and electoral ward in the Copeland district of Cumbria, England, on the Irish Sea. It was originally in the historic county of Cumberland.  I can’t find a reference to who J. B. Dykes named this tune “St. Bees” or who gave it that name, but let’s assume he may have traveled there and was inspired.

I also chose this hymn as I am very fond of bees and am quite worried about what is happening to our bee population due to disease AND the overuse of chemicals in our gardens and farms.  It is a crisis not only for home gardeners but for commercial farms.  Please, before you spray your yard and garden with pesticides, think about the poor bees who are trying to pollinate our flowers and vegetables.  Have mercy on our bees.  We need them. 

This devotional hymn of praise has no known author and first appeared in 1800. The hymn made it into the 1826 Hymnal and was set to the tune of St. Bees – the tune to which it is now most often sung, by John Bacchus Dykes in 1854. St. Bees is a tune also shared by Jesus, Name of Wondrous Love composed by Wm. Walsham How. (#323). To read more about the text and the scriptural references, read the entire posting.

Enjoy the organ and congregation at  St John’s in Detroit YOUTUBE

Where cross the crowded ways of life, #609

# 609 Where cross the crowded ways of life

Words:  Frank Mason North


Music:  Gardiner, from Sacred Melodies, 1815, arranged by William Gardiner

Frank Mason North, born New York, Dec. 3, 1850, graduated at Wesleyan University 1872, and entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church 1872.

Caleb T. Winchester, an editor of the 1905 Methodist Hymnal, challenged Frank M. North (to write a hymn text on city missions. North had intimate knowledge of urban life because of his work for the Methodist Church in New York City. Inspired by Jesus' words "Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find" (Matt. 22:9), North wrote "Where Cross the Crowded Ways." After making various revisions and adding a title ("A Prayer for the Multitudes"), he published the text in The Christian City (June 1903), a mission’s journal he edited. The text was also published in the 1905 Methodist Hymnal and in many other twentieth-century hymnbooks. Modern hymnals have changed the original "thous" and "thees" to "yous." One of the earliest and finest modern "city hymns," this text focuses on the ills of our great urban centers (and ignores their benefits) with the insight and compassion of a Christian worker in the city slums. North's descriptive phrases may have been startling at the turn of the century, but they are even more accurate descriptions of the massive cities in our world today. His prescription to follow in the footsteps of Christ and bring the gospel in word and deed is relevant as long as the Lord delays in bringing the New Jerusalem. Primarily a churchman, North devoted himself to loyal service in the Methodist denomination and to various ecumenical ventures. He was educated at Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut, and ordained in the Methodist Church in 1872. A minister in several churches in Florida, New York, and Connecticut, he also held administrative positions-secretary of the New York Church Extension and Missionary Society (1892-1912) and secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Church (1912-1924). He was involved with the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (forerunner of the National Council of Churches) and was the council's president from 1916-1920. Editor of the periodical Christian City, North was active in many organizations that promoted and carried out Christian ministries in urban life. North contributed hymns to Sursum Corda (1898) and the Methodist Hymnal (1905) and was a charter member of the Hymn Society, which republished his eight hymns in a booklet in 1970. Liturgical Use: For urban ministries and other occasions that emphasize missions and diaconal work. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987 

William Gardner, 1770-1853, showed his musical gifts ear­ly.  At age six, he sang a so­lo at the wed­ding of his friend’s fa­ther. He lat­er learned to play the pi­a­no and vi­o­la, and as a teen­ag­er wrote a march for troops re­turn­ing from war in Amer­i­ca. As his mu­sic­al tastes ma­tured, he be­came an ad­mir­er of Beet­ho­ven and Hay­dn. He be­came a mem­ber of the His­tor­ic­al In­sti­tute in Par­is in 1843. His works in­clude: Sacred Mel­o­dies from Hay­dn, Mo­zart, and Beet­ho­ven, Adapt­ed to the Best Eng­lish Po­ets and Ap­pro­pri­at­ed to the Use of the Bri­tish Church (Lon­don: 1812-15)


Enjoy this from St. John’s in Detroit. YOUTUBE


Love divine, all loves excelling, #657

Hymn # 657 Love divine, all loves excelling

Words: Charles Wesley

The Sacred Heart of Jesus by Józef Mehoffer, 1911

The Sacred Heart of Jesus by Józef Mehoffer, 1911

Tune: Hyfrodol

Composer: Rowland Prichard

I really love this hymn.  It’s the perfect match of a lilting Welsh tune paired with lovely words to inspire and move us.   I especially love the very last phrases: “changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.”  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Considered by many to be among Charles Wesley's finest texts, "Love Divine" was published in four stanzas in his Hymns for those that seek, and those that have Redemption in the Blood of Christ (1747). Many hymnals, including the Psalter Hymnal, omit the original second stanza, which contained the questionable line "take away our power of sinning." A verse from John Dryden's poem beginning with the words "Fairest isle, all isles excelling" used by Henry Purcell in his opera King Arthur were undoubtedly Wesley's inspiration for writing this text. In fact, "Love Divine" was set to a Purcell tune in John and Charles Wesley's Sacred Melody (1761).

Addressed to Christ, this text begins as a prayer for the indwelling of his love in our lives: "fix in us thy humble dwelling" and "let us all thy life receive" (st. 1-2). A tone of praise and adoration runs throughout the text. But the final stanza is clearly a prayer for sanctification, for consistently holy lives. Though this stanza was an outcome of the Wesleyan doctrine of perfection, it is our fervent Christian prayer that our sanctification will ultimately lead to glorification. As is customary in a Charles Wesley text, biblical allusions abound.

One of the most loved Welsh tunes, HYFRYDOL was composed by Rowland Hugh Prichard in 1830 when he was only nineteen. It was published with about forty of his other tunes in his children's hymnal Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singers' Friend) in 1844. 

Here is an arrangement by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes I think they are bit over the top, but this is very nice.  Enjoy.  YOUTUBE

There is another Welsh tune for this hymn, Blaenwern.  Enjoy it here as part of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.  YOUTUBE

The Church’s one foundation, #525

#525  The Church’s one foundation

Words: Samuel John Stone


Music:  Aurelia,  written by  Samuel S. Wesley


In the mid-nineteenth century, Bishop John William Colenso of Natal raised a ruckus in the Catholic Church when he challenged the historicity and authority of many of the Old Testament books. Bishop Gray of Capetown wrote a stirring response of defense, which, in 1866, inspired Samuel Stone, to write this beloved hymn, basing his text on Article 9 of the Apostle’s Creed: “The Holy Catholic (Universal) Church; the Communion of Saints; He is the Head of this Body.”

Now an affirmation of Christ as the foundation of our faith, we sing this hymn with those who have gone before us and with Christians around the world, declaring that beyond any theological differences, cultural divides, and variances in practice, we are all part of the same body, the body of Christ.

Composed by Samuel S. Wesley, AURELIA (meaning "golden") was published as a setting for “Jerusalem the Golden” in Selection of Psalms and Hymns, which was compiled by Charles Kemble and Wesley in 1864. Though opinions vary concerning the tune's merits (noted English organist and composer Henry J. Gauntlett once condemned it as "secular twaddle"), it has been firmly associated with Stone's text since tune and text first appeared together in the 1868 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Enjoy this lovely a capella rendition by the Choir of  Kings College, Cambridge.  YOUTUBE

Sing praise to God who reigns above, #408

Hymn Notes # 408

Sing praise to God who reigns above

Words:  Johann Jacob Schutz

Music:  Mit Freuden zart



Johann Jakob Schütz wrote this hymn of praise in German with nine stanzas. In 1675 he published it in his Christliches Gedenkbüchlein. The most common English translation in use is by Frances E. Cox from 1864, which was published in Orby Shipley's Lyra Eucharistica and her own Hymns from the German.

This hymn is typically published with four stanzas. [Note: our 1982 Hymnal has 3 stanzas].  Stanza 1 always opens the hymn, and the original stanzas 2 and 6 are never used. Deuteronomy 32:3 was the basis for this hymn of praise – “For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!” (ESV) Using a variety of metaphors for God and for His works, this text overflows with proclamations of God's loving care for His people. This hymn extols the greatness of God in giving all good things to His people and calls on us to continue to give God the praise He richly deserves.

The most common tune used with this text is MIT FREUDEN ZART, which is an anonymous German tune named after an Easter hymn by Georg Vetter. It first appeared in a Bohemian Brethren hymnal in 1566, hence the alternate title BOHEMIAN BRETHREN.

Enjoy the organ, choir and congregation of First Presbyterian, Houston. YOUTUBE

Holy, holy, holy, #362

# 362   Holy, holy, holy

Words:                 Reginald Heber


Tune:                    Nicaea

Composer;          John Bacchus Dykes

Holy, Holy, Holy is surely one of the most inspiring and beautiful hymns.  Published in 1826,  it  first appeared in Anglican Hymnal in 1871.   Here is the story of its origin:

In 325 AD, Church leaders convened in the town of Nicaea in Bithynia to formulate a consensus of belief and practice amongst Christians. What resulted was the Nicene Creed, a document passed on through the ages as one of the pillars of church doctrine. The primary function of this creed was to establish a firm belief in the Trinity, countering the heresy of Arius, who believed that Jesus was not fully divine. It was this creed that inspired Reginald Heber to write this great hymn of praise to the Triune God, with the intent that the hymn be sung before or after the creed was recited in a service, and on Trinity Sunday – eight weeks after Easter. The tune, composed by John B. Dykes for Heber’s text, is also titled NICAEA in recognition of Heber’s text. The words evoke a sense of awe at the majesty of God, and call on all of creation – humans, saints and angels, and all living things – to praise the Godhead three-in-one.

I don’t know about you but the imagery of “casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea” never fails to give me chills.  Truly,  a magnificent hymn. 

Here is a glorious playing, organ only, played by the organ maker.  YOUTUBE

And here is congregational singing with organ and strings from the Church of St. Michael, Stillwater, MN. YOUTUBE

Note: I would have included a video from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but they changed the words:  not “God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity” but their version, “God in thy glory, through eternity.”

Come down, O Love Divine, #516

# 516  Come down, O Love Divine


Text:   Bianco di Siena; translated by Richard F. Littledale

Tune:  Down Ampney

Composer:  Ralph Vaughn Williams

Bianco da Siena entered the Order of Jesuates in 1367 consisting of unordained men who followed the rule of St. Augustine.  Richard Littledale was a 19th century scholar and curate who devoted the latter years of his life to literature, including the translating of hymns.

This hymn is the ideal pairing of text and tune, the inspiring verse sung to a simple, lovely melody.  The first verse addresses the Holy Spirit as “O Love divine” and “O Comforter,” asking for His presence in our lives. The middle verses (2nd in our Hymnal) ask the Holy Spirit to purge us of all pride and evil passion, and to purify our love and light our path. The final verse anticipates the greater love for God that will ensue from such purification, and recognizes that, as Paul wrote, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The original third verse is not included in our 1982 Hymnal – why?  It’s so lovely and moving I had to share:

Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
and o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958) the son of a vicar, was a celebrated English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many folk song arrangements set as hymn tunes, and also influenced several of his own original compositions.  How ironic that his second wife described him as "an atheist ... [who] later drifted into a cheerful agnosticism."      The tune name comes from his boyhood home, Down Ampney, Gloucestershire.

Here's a lovely rendition by the King's College Choir, Cambridge. YOUTUBE

All hail the power of Jesus’ name, #450

# 450 All hail the power of Jesus’ name


Text:  Edward Perronet

Music:  Coronation, by Oliver Holden

I think this is a splendid hymn.   I especially like the reference to Earth as “this terrestrial ball.”

“It is interesting that those who express the most eloquent praise are often the people we would deem the least likely to have the ability. Yet David, the adulterating, murdering, lying king of Israel wrote a good deal of the Psalms, which we still use today as our guide for worship. In the same way, all accounts show Rev. Edward Perronet (1721-1792) to be a sharp-tongued, difficult personality, who would rather pick a fight over theology than display brotherly love. Though Perronet was a minister of the established Church of England, his evangelical, or "dissenting" roots grew deep. His father had been associated with Whitefield and the Wesleys, and Perronet himself worked with the Wesleys until they split over the question of administering the Sacraments. Perronet then found work as a chaplain for the famous patroness of the evangelical movement, Countess of Huntingdon, but was soon removed from his post due to his violent attacks on the established church. (Acidic remarks like, "I was born and I am like to die in the tottering communion of the Church of England; but I despise her nonsense." are the kind that force even the hardiest dissenter to keep their distance!) The text first appeared anonymously in 1780 in Gospel Magazine with the title "On the Resurrection." Many argue that the hymn has experienced continued popularity due to the hymntune MILES LANE which appeared with it in Gospel Magazine and the tunes CORONATION and DIADEM which have accompanied the text since that time. The poem was edited and added to by Rev. John Rippon for his book A Selection of Hymns, from the Best Authors intended to be an Appendix to Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns (1787), and his edition is the one commonly used in hymn books today. --Greg Scheer, 1997” 

Like the tune MILES LANE [see Hymn 451] , CORONATION was written for this text. Oliver Holden (b. Shirley, MA, 1765; d. Charlestown, MA, 1844) composed the tune in four parts with a duet in the third phrase. The tune, whose title comes from the theme of Perronet's text, was published in Holden's Union Harmony (1793). It is the one eighteenth-century American tune that has enjoyed uninterrupted popularity–from the singing schools of that era to today's congregational worship. CORONATION is a vigorous marching tune with many repeated tones that delighted Holden's contemporaries. The tune requires the jubilant repetition of the last couplet of text for each stanza. Sing in parts and accompany with a firm sense of rhythm. Holden was reared in a small rural community and had only a minimal formal education–a few months in a "common school" in Groton, Massachusetts. He worked as a carpenter and was involved in community service in Charlestown, holding posts in the Anti-Slavery Society and serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In addition, he worked very profitably as a merchant and real estate dealer, and served as a Puritan lay preacher. Very interested in music, Holden became a composer and singing-school teacher in the tradition of William Billings. He was involved in publishing various tune books, including The American Harmony (1792), The Massachusetts Compiler (1795), Plain Psalmody (1800), and The Charlestown Collection of Sacred Songs (1803). --Psalter Hymnal Handbook.


Enjoy this video from First Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska YOUTUBE

Christ is made the sure foundation, #518

# 518 Christ is made the sure foundation

church on rock.jpg

Words: Latin, ca 7th century, translated for Hymns Ancient and Modern by John Mason Neale

Music:  Westminster Abbey

Composer:  Henry Purcell

A favorite hymn since it was first entered the Hymnal in 1871, this text has gained an even greater measure of favor and us in the Episcopal Church since it was matched with the Purcell tune Westminster Abbey in Hymnal Supplement II, 1986.  This text/tune relationship was first introduced to Americans through the broadcast of the marriage ceremony of Princess Margaret of England and Lord Snowden in 1960.  It is now often used as a processional hymn at weddings in Episcopal churches.

One of the oldest Latin hymn texts, it was found in manuscript collection of hymns from the ninth century, but perhaps dates back as early at the sixth century.  The stanzas are actually part of a much longer hymn traditionally associated with the dedication of a church. 

The tune Westminster Abbey is derived from an anthem by the great English composer Henry Purcell. The tune name obviously reflect Purcell’s various associations with the great London church. From 1674-1678, Purcell tuned the organ in the Abbey and later succeeded John Blow as the organist.  On November 25, 1695, his funeral and burial were held there.

Here is a glorious YouTube of the hymn, from an Ecumenical Celebration at, yes, Westminster Abbey, 17 September 2010.   Be sure to watch as well as listen to the end.   Wow.  YOUTUBE

Thou, who at thy first Eucharist didst pray, #315

# 315  Thou, who at thy first Eucharist didst pray

Words:  William Harry Turton

Orlando Gibbons

Orlando Gibbons

Music:  Song 1, melody, and bass, Orlando Gibbons, and harmonized by Ralph Vaughn Williams

Turton, W. H., a Lieut. in the Royal Engineers, has published A Few Hymns written by A Layman between the Festivals of All Saints, 1880 and 1881. This contains 12 hymns. The Second Series, , and the Third Series, 1882-1883, another 12. These hymns are worthy of attention. Those which have passed into common use include:

“And now our Eucharist is o'er” (1881-1882) – not in our Hymnal – and this one:

“0 Thou who at Thy Eucharist didst pray.” This hymn was used at S. Mary Magdalene's, Munster Square, N. W., in the Anniversary Service of the English Church Union, June 22,1881. It is intended to be sung after the ‘Agnus Dei,' at a choral celebration." In the 1889 Supplemental Hymns to Hymns Ancient & Modern it reads "Thou, Who at Thy first Eucharist didst pray."

Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625) was an English composer, virginalist and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods. He was a leading composer in the England of his day. Gibbons was born in Cambridge and christened at Oxford the same year – thus appearing in Oxford church records. Between 1596 and 1598 he sang in the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, where his brother Edward Gibbons (1568–1650), eldest of the four sons of William Gibbons, was master of the choristers. The second brother Ellis Gibbons (1573–1603) was also a promising composer, but died young. Orlando entered the university in 1598 and achieved the degree of Bachelor of Music in 1606. James I appointed him a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served as an organist from at least 1615 until his death. In 1623 he became senior organist at the Chapel Royal, with Thomas Tomkins as junior organist. He also held positions as keyboard player in the privy chamber of the court of Prince Charles (later King Charles I), and organist at Westminster Abbey. He died at age 41 in Canterbury of apoplexy, and a monument to him was built in Canterbury Cathedral. A suspicion immediately arose that Gibbons had died of the plague, which was rife in England that year. Two physicians who had been present at his death were ordered to make a report, and performed an autopsy, the account of which survives in The National Archive, that indicates an autopsy revealed a brain tumor. 

One of the most versatile English composers of his time, Gibbons wrote a quantity of keyboard works, around thirty fantasias for viols, a number of madrigals (the best-known being "The Silver Swan"), and many popular verse anthems. His choral music is distinguished by his complete mastery of counterpoint, combined with his wonderful gift for melody.  To this day, Gibbons's obit service is commemorated every year in King's College Chapel, Cambridge.


Here is the Los Angeles First Congregrational Church Choir.  Enjoy. YOUTUBE

"The King of love, my shepherd is" #645

# 645   The King of love, my shepherd is

good shepherd.jpg

Words: Henry Williams Baker

Music:  St. Columba

I chose this hymn for the week in honor of the new royal baby, as this is a Very British Hymn.

Henry Baker, editor-in-chief of Hymns Ancient and Modern, wrote this text based on Psalm 23, and it appeared in the appendix of that hymnal in 1868. The text of this hymn has remained very stable. The fifth stanza is omitted from some hymnals, perhaps because this stanza contains more archaic expressions than any of the others. Most hymnals do not modernize the language. The six stanzas of this hymn correlate closely to the six verses of the twenty-third Psalm, while drawing connections between this well-known Old Testament passage and several New Testament images, all on the theme of the Good Shepherd. In the first two stanzas, the connections are subtle. In stanza 1, Baker adds a comment on the two-way, eternal nature of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep, referring to Jesus' words in John 10:28. By changing the words “still waters” to “streams of living water,” Baker recalls Jesus' declaration that He is the source of these streams (John 4:14, 7:37-39). Stanza 3 clearly refers to the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7). In the second half of the hymn, the connection between Old and New Testaments is more pronounced by the use of the words “cross” (st. 4), “chalice” (st. 5, referring to the cup in the Lord's Supper), and “Good Shepherd” (st. 6).

There are two tunes with which this text is frequently associated: DOMINUS REGIT ME [hymn 646], and ST COLUMBA. DOMINUS REGIT ME is the opening phrase of Psalm 23 in Latin. John B. Dykes wrote this tune for this hymn in 1868. The editors of the English Hymnal were unable to use this tune due to copyright issues, so they adapted ST. COLUMBA, an Irish hymn tune. Both choices are quite popular. DOMINUS REGIT ME appears in more hymnals, but ST. COLUMBA is more popular with arrangers.  It seems to me DOMINUS REGIT ME sounds more British, and you may recognize it from Princess Diana’s funeral.

Here are the two versions for your enjoyment, first St. Columba, YOUTUBE

and then Dominus Regit Me YOUTUBE

You decide which one you prefer.

“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say #179

# 179  “Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say


Words:  Venantius Honorius Fortunatus

Music: Fortunatus, Arthur Seymour Sullivan


This is one of my favorite Easter hymns. The author of the text, Venantius Fortunatus, also wrote the text for # 175, Hail thee, festival day, another popular hymn during the Easter season. Fortunatus was born between 530 and 540 AD at Duplavis near Treviso in Venetia, Italy.  He grew up during the Roman reconquest of Italy, but there is controversy concerning where Fortunatus spent his childhood. Sometime in the 550s or 60s, he travelled to Ravenna to study. While there, he was given a classical education, in the Roman style. His later work shows familiarity with not only classical Latin poets such as Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Statius, and Martial, but also Christian poets, including Arator, Claudian, and Coelius Sedulius, and bears their influence. In addition, Fortunatus likely had some knowledge of the Greek language and the classical Greek writers and philosophers, as he makes reference to them and Greek words at times throughout his poetry and prose.

Fortunatus traveled extensively in his life.  Sometime around 576, he was ordained into the church while living in Poitiers.  He stayed there until around the year 599-600, when he was appointed Bishop of Poitiers, to replace Plato, Bishop of Poitiers. Fortunatus died in the early 7th century. He was called a saint after his death, but was never formally canonized.

Fortunatus is best known for two poems that have become part of the liturgy of the Catholic Church, the Pange lingua gloriosi proelium certaminis ("Sing, O tongue, of the glorious struggle"), a hymn that later inspired St Thomas Aquinas's Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium.

Several of his hymn texts are used extensively in the Hymnal 1982, including this one with a tune by Sir Arthur Sullivan.  Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (13 May 1842 – 22 November 1900) was an English composer. He is best known for 14 operatic collaborations with the dramatist W. S. Gilbert, including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. His works include 24 operas, 11 major orchestral works, ten choral works and oratorios, two ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous church pieces, songs, and piano and chamber pieces. His hymns and songs include "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "The Lost Chord". In our hymnal you will find a number of his tunes, including the Easter Hymn “Come, ye faithful, raise the strain.” 

Enjoy the St. Bartholomew’s Church congregation and organ. YOUTUBE

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing # 174

# 174  - At the Lamb’s high feast we sing

Lamb of God.jpg

Words:  Latin, 1632, translated by Robert Campbell

Tune:  Salzburg, melody Jakob Hintze; harmonized by J.S. Bach


Many great Easter hymns this Sunday but I had to choose the one that features a wonderful Bach harmonization.  Listen for the great moving bass line in the third line.

Not much is known about Robert Campbell who translated the original text. The tune SALZBURG, named after the Austrian city made famous by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was first published anonymously in the nineteenth edition of Praxis Pietatis Melica (1678); in that hymnbook's twenty-fourth edition (1690) the tune was attributed to Jakob Hintze (b. Bernau, Germany, 1622; d. Berlin, Germany, 1702). Partly as a result of the Thirty Years' War and partly to further his musical education, Hintze traveled widely as a youth, including trips to Sweden and Lithuania. In 1659 he settled in Berlin, where he served as court musician to the Elector of Brandenburg from 1666 to 1695. Hintze is known mainly for his editing of the later editions of Johann Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica, to which he contributed some sixty-five of his original tunes. The harmonization by Johann S. Bach is simplified from his setting in his Choralgesänge  and The Hymna1 1982 contain Bach's full harmonization.

Enjoy St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York from Easter Sunday, 2011.  What an organ!  YOUTUBE

Ride on, ride on in majesty

Hymn Notes

Ride on, Ride on in majesty

Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, by Minerva Teichert

Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, by Minerva Teichert

Tune: Winchester New from Musicalishes Hand-buch, 1690, harmonized by William Henry Monk

 Ride On, Ride On in Majesty!" is a Christian hymn written by Henry Hart Milman in 1820. It is a Palm Sunday hymn and refers to Matthew 21:1–17 and Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

While Milman wrote "Ride On, Ride On in Majesty!" in 1820, it was not published in a hymn book until 1827 when it was published in Bishop Reginald Heber's Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year. This is reported to only have happened after Milman met Heber in 1823 before Heber became Bishop of Calcutta. It was described by composer Stanley L. Osbourne as "Objective, robust, confident, and stirring, it possesses that peculiar combination of tragedy and victory which draws the singer into the very centre of the drama. It is this which gives the hymn its power and its challenge". The hymn proved popular: in 1907, John Julian, in his Dictionary of Hymnology, stated it was the most popular Palm Sunday hymn in the English language at that time.

The hymn is viewed to be full of dramatic irony. The third line of the first verse "Thine humble beast pursues his road" has been disliked by some hymn book editors. In 1852 it was attempted to be changed to "O Saviour meek, pursue Thy road" and in 1855 to "With joyous throngs pursue Thy road" however both attempts received little popular attention. This led to some hymn books omitting the first verse.

There are several tunes that are used for "Ride On, Ride On in Majesty!": Hebron by Lowell Mason, Winchester New by William Henry Monk, and St Drostane. The hymn is used as a processional hymn during Palm Sunday.  In the 1982 Hymnal,  the words are paired with the The King’s Majesty tune by Graham George.   For our Palm Sunday service, we will use the Winchester New tune, familiar to us from “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s Cry.”

Enjoy the King’s College Choir, Cambridge: YOUTUBE CAMBRIDGE  and a fine congregational sing, with brass, from St. Mary Le Tower Church, Ipswich.  YOUTUBE IPSWICH 

Jesus, all my gladness #701

# 701  Jesus, all my gladness


Text:      Johann Franck, translated by Catherine Winkworth

Tune:     Jesu, meine freude

Composer: Johann Cruger

 It does my Lutheran heart good to share these comments about one of my favorite hymns.  Surely there are few hymns as moving, as personal as this.

From The Hymnal 1982 Companion:

This famous text and tune, first matched in 1656, unite a profound and deeply personal expression of the yearning for spiritual union between the worshiper and Jesus Christ.  The text, originally 6 stanzas, was modeled on a German love song,” Flora meine Freude.”  The first translation of this text into English was by Catherine Winkworth for the Chorale Book for England, 1863.  The text as it appears in the 1982 Hymnal is a translation of stanzas 1,4, and 6 of the original and is a slightly altered version of the translation by Arthur Wellesley Wotherspoon  for the Scottish Mission Hymnbook, and then made its way into the 1940 Hymnal.     

Just for comparison, here is the translation of stanza 1 from The Lutheran Hymnal and the translation from our 1982 Hymnal.  You tell me which one you like best …


Jesus, priceless Treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest Friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for Thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide Thee,
Naught I ask beside Thee.


Jesus, all my gladness,
my repose in sadness,
Jesus, heaven to me;
ah, my heart long plaineth,
ah, my spirit straineth,
longeth after thee!
Thine I am, O holy Lamb;
only where thou art is pleasure,
thee alone I treasure.

Cruger wrote the tune in 1653.  Bach later based his great five-part motet on this text and tune and also utilized the tune in several cantatas and organ works.  It is considered one of the finest of post-Reformation tunes and texts.

Here is the hymn with the Bach harmonization [not in our Hymnal.]   I think the simple piano setting is very moving.  YOUTUBE BACH HARMONY  And here is the Bach motet using the tune. It’s 20 minutes long but well worth it.  YOUTUBE BACH MOTET

Come, thou fount of every blessing, #686

# 686     Come, thou fount of every blessing

Words:    Robert Robinson

Tune:  Nettleton, melody from A Repository of Sacred Music


This is one of my favorite hymns, and maybe one of your favorites, too. The imagery formed from the text, paired with a simple beautiful tune, is so moving. 

In 1752, a young Robert Robinson attended an evangelical meeting to heckle the believers and make fun of the proceedings. Instead, he listened in awe to the words of the great preacher George Whitefield, and in 1755, at the age of twenty, Robinson responded to the call he felt three years earlier and became a Christian. Another three years later, when preparing a sermon for his church in Norfolk, England, he penned the words that have become one of the church’s most-loved hymns.

Using imagery of Christ as the giver of living water and the shepherd gathering his sheep back into the fold, this hymn reminds the worshiper of the ever bountiful grace of God. Like Robinson, we too are “prone to wander,” and are quick to seek redemption through our own power. But God continues to bring us back from our wandering, until, songs of praise on our lips, we dance forever before the mount of His redeeming love.

Here’s a stirring offering from the Choral Society of Middle Georgia, Mercer University Choir and Mercer Center for Strings, from their performance at Carnegie Hall.  YOUTUBE

Songs of thankfulness and praise #135

Hymn # 135  Songs of thankfulness and praise

Words:  Christopher Wordsworth and F. Bland Tucker

Music:  Salzburg, melody by Jakob Hintze and harmonized by J.S. Bach



Christopher Wordsworth (b. Lambeth, London, England, 1807; d. Harewood, Yorkshire, England, 1885), nephew of the great Romantic poet William Wordsworth, wrote this hymn in five stanzas. It was published in his Holy Year (1862) John 3:13-17 with the heading "Sixth Sunday after Epiphany." Wordsworth described the text as follows:

“[It is a] recapitulation of the successive manifestations of Christ, which have already been presented in the services of the former weeks throughout the season of Epiphany; and anticipation of that future great and glorious Epiphany, at which Christ will be manifest to all, when he will appear again to judge the world.”

The didactic text teaches the meaning of Epiphany–the manifestation of Christ in his birth (st. 1), baptism, miracle at Cana (st. 2), healing of the sick, power over evil, and coming as judge (st. 3). Originally the refrain line was "Anthems be to thee addressed, God in man made manifest." The revised refrain borrows Peter's confession, "You are the Christ!" (Mark 8:29), and makes that our corporate confession as we acknowledge the 'Word become flesh" who lived among us. Wordsworth was a prolific author and the most renowned Greek scholar of his day. Included in his works are Memoirs of William Wordsworth (1851), Commentary on the Mole Bible (1856-1870), Church History (1881-1883), innumerable sermons and pamphlets, and The Holy Year (1862), which contained 117 of his original hymns as well as 82 others written for all the Sundays and Christian holy days according to the Book of Common Prayer. Wordsworth was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, where he distinguished himself as a brilliant student. He later taught at Trinity College and was headmaster of Harrow School (1836-1844). Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1835, he was canon of Westminster in 1844, a country priest in Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire (1850-1869), and then Bishop of Lincoln (1869-1885) His writings are numerous, and some of them very valuable. Most of his works are in prose. His "Holy Year; or, Hymns for Sundays, Holidays, and other occasions throughout the Year," was published in [1862], and contains 127 hymns.

I do not know exactly how the 4th verse by Bishop F. Bland Tucker came to be part of the hymn, but this Wikipedia entry about him sheds light on his wide and deep influence on the Episcopal church, including 22 years at Rector at Christ Church, Savannah.  WIKIPEDIA

The tune SALZBURG, named after the Austrian city made famous by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was first published anonymously in the nineteenth edition of Praxis Pietatis Melica (1678); in that hymnbook's twenty-fourth edition (1690) the tune was attributed to Jakob Hintze (b. Bernau, Germany, 1622; d. Berlin, Germany, 1702). Hintze is known mainly for his editing of the later editions of Johann Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica, to which he contributed some sixty-five of his original tunes. The harmonization by Johann S. Bach is simplified from his setting in his Choralgesänge (Rejoice in the Lord [231] and The Hymna1 1982 [135] both contain Bach's full harmonization.

Enjoy this from the University of the South's School of Theology, Chapel of the Apostles. YOUTUBE