Where cross the crowded ways of life #609

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# 609 Where cross the crowded ways of life

Words:  Frank Mason North

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

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 missions 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.

For a longer discussion see: Discipleship Ministries

 And enjoy this from St. John’s in Detroit YOUTUBE

For All the Saints, from their Labor Rest #287

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# 287 - For All the Saints, from their labor rest

Words: William Walsham Haw

Tune:     Sine Nomine

Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams

Text:

This text was written by William W. How, a bishop of the Anglican Church, and first published in Horatio Nelson's Hymns for Saints' Days in 1864. There is considerable variance between hymnals as to which of the eleven original stanzas are included (typically six to eight are selected). Two things are universally agreed upon: that the first two of the original stanzas are always included (“For all the saints” and “Thou wast their rock”), and the original fourth and fifth are never sung. Two more things are agreed upon with rare exception: that the original third stanza is omitted (“For the Apostles”), and that the last stanza is included (“From earth's wide bounds”). There is considerable variance on which of the remaining five original stanzas are sung.

There are also differences in wording between different hymnals. Some merely modernize the language (i.e., “Thou wast their rock” becomes “You were their rock”). Other changes, as well as the choice of which stanzas to include, appear to reflect a desire to slightly soften the theme of the Church militant, which is heavily present in the text.

After the great “Hall of Faith” passage in Hebrews 11, the writer to the Hebrews calls the saints who are still on earth to emulate those who have gone before: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us …” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV). What were the accomplishments of this “great cloud of witnesses?” They “… conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, … quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness …” (Hebrews 11:33-34, ESV). That sounds rather glamorous! But “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword” (Hebrews 11:36-37, ESV). What a contrast!

The stanzas of the hymn “For All the Saints” describe the common life of all the saints: the credit due to Jesus Christ for drawing us all to Him, the strength and guidance we continue to draw from Him, our joint communion in Christ, the continuing struggle against evil, and the coming day when the dead shall rise and we shall all worship together before God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No matter what path each of us travels, we all will enjoy the same glorious eternal life.

Tune:

In modern hymnals, this text is paired with SINE NOMINE, written for this text in 1906 by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the well-known English composer. He wrote harmonizations for both unison singing and four-part harmony. The title SINE NOMINE means “without a name” in Latin; it may refer to the many saints whose names are known only to God (The New Century Hymnal Companion, ed. Kristin L. Forman, 361).

Before SINE NOMINE was composed, the most popular tune was SARUM, written in 1868 by Joseph Barnby, but this has fallen out of favor and almost never appears in modern hymnals.

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

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God #293

# 293  I sing a song of the saints of God.

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Words:  Lesbia Scott  Tune:  Grand Isle  Composer: John Henry Hopkins

This hymn first appeared in the Episcopal Hymnal in the 1940 edition.   Lesbia Scott (1898-1986) wrote plays and hymns [notable collection - Everyday Hymns for Children, 1929] and was quoted as saying she wrote verse not for publication for but the enjoyment of her three children who would ask “write a hymn for a picnic” or “ a hymn for a foggy day.”    She speaks specifically of wanting to impress the fact that sainthood is a living possibility today.

Most of us probably smile when we sing “and one was a doctor and one was a queen” or “meet them in school, or in lanes, or in shops or at tea” for the charming British-ness of the text.   It was this very cultural specific nature of the text that led the Committee choosing hymns for the 1982 Hymnal to vote to exclude it, but a letter writing campaign led to action of the Joint Committee for Hymnal Revision for the General Convention of 1982 and it was restored to the collection.  

The original hymn was set to a tune written by Ms. Scott. Only later was the current familiar tune paired with the text.  The tune name comes from the community on the island of the same name in Lake Champlain in Vermont where Hopkins lived in his retirement. 

You’ll enjoy this spirited singing and fabulous organ from St Johns Church YOUTUBE

O Master let me walk with thee

O Master let me walk with thee

Words:            Washington Gladden

Music: Maryton, by Henry Percy Smith

Washington Gladden (1836-1918) was called to the First Congregational Church in Columbus, OH in 1882 and remained there for 32 years. In 1883-84 he was known for his success in fighting the corrupt Tweed Ring, for arbitrating the Telegraphers' Strike and the Hocking Valley Coal Strike. He attacked John D. Rockefeller, Sr. for giving $100,000 of "tainted money" to the Congregational Church's Foreign Missions program. Throughout his ministry he emphasized applying the gospel to life in America. He wrote "O Master, let me walk with thee" in 1879.

After various tunes had been set to this text, Gladden insisted on the use of MARYTON. Composed by H. Percy Smith (b. Malta, 1825; d. Bournemouth, Hampshire, England, 1898), the tune was originally published as a setting for John Keble's "Sun of My Soul" in Arthur S. Sullivan's Church Hymns with Tunes.

Here's a lovely rendition by The Table Singers. YOUTUBE

Blessed Jesus, at thy word

# 440 Blessed Jesus, at thy word

Words:  Tobias Clausnitzer

Music:  Johann Rudolph Ahle

Tobias Clausnitzer was the author of the original German text. It was first published anonymously in 1663 in the Altdorffisches Gesang-Büchlein, but was credited to Clausnitzer in the 1671 edition. The most common English translation is by Catherine Winkworth, which appeared in the second series of her Lyra Germanica in 1858 as “Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word.”

 Clausnitzer graduated from the University of Leipzig and became a chaplain in the Swedish army. He preached two sermons at memorable occasions: when Queen Christina ascended the Swedish throne in 1645 and when the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, was celebrated in 1648. Clausnitzer became a pastor in Weiden in 1648, where he remained until his death. In addition to "Blessed Jesus, at Your Word," his creedal hymn, “We Believe in One True God,” is found in many modern hymnals

This hymn originally had three stanzas. The first stanza is a petition for a heart that is receptive to hearing the Word of God proclaimed. The second is a declaration of the need for such a work of God in human hearts, and the third is a statement of praise to Christ and a repetition of the plea of the first stanza. In some hymnals, an anonymous doxological stanza is added as the fourth.

The German chorale tune LIEBSTER JESU (also called DESSAU) was composed by Johann R. Ahle for an Advent hymn and first published by him in 1664. In its original form, the tune was florid and soloistic in nature, but it was revised for congregational singing and paired with Clausnitzer’s text in the late seventeenth century. The tune was named after this text. (The opening line of the German is “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier.”)

Enjoy this video from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota:  YOUTUBE

When morning gilds the skies

# 427  When morning gilds the skies

Words:   German, translated by Robert Seymour Bridges

Music:    Laudes Domini by Joseph Barnby

No one knows the original author of this text, which was translated from the German. One German version with 14 six-line stanzas appeared in Katholisches Gesangbuch of 1828, published in Würzburg by Sebastian Pörtner. In 1855, another German version appeared in F. W. von Ditfurth's Fränkische Volkslieder. Edward Caswall translated part of it into English in 1854 for Henry Formby's Catholic Hymns, and translated the whole hymn – 28 couplets with the refrain “May Jesus Christ be praised” – for his own The Masque of Mary, and Other Poems in 1858. In 1899, Robert Bridges made another translation in 5 twelve-line stanzas for the Yattendon Hymnal, drawing on Caswall's well-known translation for continuity. These two well-known English translations are quite different and may derive from varying German versions. The 1982 Hymnal uses the 5 verse Bridges translation.

This hymn is often classified as a morning hymn simply because of the opening line. However, a number of places throughout the entirety of the text name other times of day; for example, “When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs.” It is more properly a hymn of praise for various times of day and many situations of life – joy and sorrow, worship and work, and more.

Joseph Barnby wrote 246 hymn tunes, but LAUDES DOMINI is one of only a handful still in use, and is without doubt his most popular tune. LAUDES DOMINI was written for this text and was published with it in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern. The tune name is Latin and means “praise the Lord,” which refers to the refrain “May Jesus Christ be praised.” The tune is in two halves, like the text of each stanza, each of which repeats a musical motive. 

Here's a rousing rendition from St. Barthomolew's  Church in New York City.  Make sure to listen to the splendid organ interlude between verses.  YOUTUBE

O day of radiant gladness

#48 O day of radiant gladness     

Text:      Christopher Wordsworth

Tune:    ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVOGELEIN

‘O day of radiant gladness,” a six-stanza text, is the first hymn in Christopher Wordsworth’s Holy Year (London, 1862).   Wordsworth--nephew of the great lake-poet, William Wordsworth--was born in 1807. He was educated at Winchester, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A., with high honors, in 1830; M.A. in 1833; D.D. in 1839. He was elected Fellow of his College in 1830, and public orator of the University in 1836; received Priest's Orders in 1835; head master of Harrow School in 1836; Canon of Westminster Abbey in 1844; Hulsean Lecturer at Cambridge in 1847-48; Vicar of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berks, in 1850; Archdeacon of Westminster, in 1865; Bishop of Lincoln, in 1868. 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," contains 127 hymns.

Because of the confusion created by the poet in the association of biblical events of the first day of the week with those of the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath, many changes have been made in the text by the Text Committee. For example, Christians celebrate the first day of the week the day of resurrection, instead of the seventh day, the day of rest. Therefore, the original first line of the text has been altered from “O day of rest and gladness” to “O day of radiant gladness.”

The tune name means “There flew a little woodbird,” the opening line of the secular words with which this music was originally associated.

Here's a nice rendition to enjoy: YOUTUBE

God, My King, Thy Might Confessing

God, My King, Thy Might Confessing -- # 414

Words:  Richard Mant

Tune:  Stuttgart, melody from Psalmodia Sacra,oder Andachtige und Schone Gesange.

A hymn which extols God as King and blesses His name is "God, My King, Thy Might Confessing.  This paraphrase of Psalm 145 was made by Richard Mant, who was born at Southampton, England. When in college, he won the Chancellor’s prize for an English essay, and for a while afterwards was a College Tutor. The following year, he became a minister with many parishes across England over his career. His writings are voluminous, and his hymns are scattered throughout his different works. This one, probably his best known, was taken from his volume The Book of Psalms in an English Metrical Version of 1824    

The tune (Stuttgart) most often used with Mant’s hymn was first found in the 1715 Psalmoda Sacra published at Gotha, Germany, by A. C. Ludwig and Christian Friedrich Witt (1669-1716). Witt is generally thought to have been the composer.  William Henry Havergal is credited with adapting and harmonizing the tune found in our Hymnal. 

Here's a lovely rendtion from St. John's in Detroit.  YOUTUBE

Sing, ye faithful, sing with gladness

# 492  Sing, ye faithful, sing with gladness

Text:      John Ellerton

Tune:   Finnian

Composer:  Christopher Dearnley

This Hymn of the Incarnation by John Ellerton was first published in Select Hymns for Church and Home (Edinburgh, 1871).    The hymn originally had six stanzas but after a series of revisions, and the hymn being dropped from the Episcopal hymnal, it was reinstated in Hymnal III as we find it now in the 1982 Hymnal.

This strong processional type tune was composed December 18, 1966, the date of the birth of the youngest child of the composer, Christopher Dearnley.  The tune name is derived from the name of the sixth-century Irish saint, whose name was one of the names given to Dearnley’s son.  

Here’s a video from the National Cathedral.  The organ does drown out the voices but, oh, what an organ!  YOUTUBE

I love thy kingdom, Lord

Hymn # 524        I love thy kingdom, Lord

Words:                 Timothy Dwight

Tune:                    St. Thomas

Composer:          Aaron Williams, harmonized by Lowell Mason


“I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” (1801) is perhaps the earliest hymn still currently used that was composed by a citizen of the United States. The author, Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), was one of the outstanding leaders of his time. 

Dwight’s family tree was indeed a distinguished one. He was the grandson of the Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards. Dwight demonstrated a precocious spirit at a young age …entering Yale College at age 13. Graduating from Yale at 17, taught grammar school in New Haven … became a tutor at Yale … served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War with George Washington. After becoming a Congregational minister in Fairfield, Conn., Dwight supplemented his insufficient pastoral salary by opening a private academy. The success of this academy led to his election in 1795 as president of Yale College. 

Dwight left a legacy of improved scholastic standards at Yale College, serving not only as the school’s president, but also as professor of literature, oratory and theology, and college chaplain. He is credited with fostering a revival among the students through his sermons in the college chapel, a revival that spread to other New England colleges. 

Dwight’s literary accomplishments were many. He may be best known today for his 1797 revision of Isaac Watts’ 1719 Psalms of David, to which he added 33 of his own texts. “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” published in the 1801 revision of Watts’ Psalms of David, is the only remaining text from Dwight’s Watts, prepared at the request of the General Association (Congregational) of Connecticut, that has survived.  The text originally had 8 verses but most hymnals have reduced it to five.

Here's a rousing rendition from the National Cathedral: YOUTUBE

It is well with my soul

Lift Every Voice And Sing # 188     It is well with my soul

Words:            Horatio G. Spafford

Tune:               Ville du Havre

Composer:      Philip P. Bliss

 

"It Is Well With My Soul" is a hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.   First published in Gospel Songs No. 2 by Sankey and Bliss (1876), it is possibly the most influential and enduring in the Bliss repertoire and is often taken as a choral model, appearing in hymnals of a wide variety of Christian fellowships.

This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford's life. The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

Bliss called his tune Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel.

The Spaffords later had three more children. On February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford (born March 24, 1878) and Grace Spafford (born January 18, 1881). Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment. In response, the Spaffords formed their own Messianic sect, dubbed "the Overcomers" by American press. In 1881, the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Ottoman-Turkish Palestine. The Spaffords settled in Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures. The colony later became the subject of Jerusalem by the Nobel prize-winning author, Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.

Here is a lovely rendition: 

LEVAS # 188     It is well with my soul

Words:            Horatio G. Spafford

Tune:               Ville du Havre

Composer:      Philip P. Bliss

 

"It Is Well With My Soul" is a hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.   First published in Gospel Songs No. 2 by Sankey and Bliss (1876), it is possibly the most influential and enduring in the Bliss repertoire and is often taken as a choral model, appearing in hymnals of a wide variety of Christian fellowships.

This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford's life. The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

Bliss called his tune Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel.

The Spaffords later had three more children. On February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford (born March 24, 1878) and Grace Spafford (born January 18, 1881). Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment. In response, the Spaffords formed their own Messianic sect, dubbed "the Overcomers" by American press. In 1881, the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Ottoman-Turkish Palestine. The Spaffords settled in Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures. The colony later became the subject of Jerusalem by the Nobel prize-winning author, Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.[3]

Here is a lovely rendition:  YOUTUBE

All my hope on God is founded

# 665                    All my hope on God is founded

Words:                 Robert Seymour Bridges, after Joachim Neander

Tune:                    Michael

Composer:          Herbert Howells

From The 1982 Hymnal Companion

This hymn was one of those for which the Hymnal Selection Committee preparing Hymnal 1982 received a significant number of requests for inclusion.  Undoubtably, this is due to the popularity of the tune, which is one of Herbert Howell’s most engaging. Through the matching of MICHAEL with the Bridges text, a work of singular beauty and strength, the worshiper is enabled to articulate faith in a very compelling way.

Bridges took the original Neander verse  and “does not really translate the German originals, but uses them merely for suggestion, not only paraphrasing freely, and omitting many verses, but also adding verses of his own. Thus, although the individualistic note of the post-Luther German pietism is here retained in the opening stanzas, the hymn is on the whole on a wider more modern note, and in line with Bridge’s final mature work. 

Dr. Herbert Howells wrote MICHAEL ca. 1930 for use with these words.  Dr. Howells recalls that upon receiving the commission to write the tune, he wrote the entire tune while still at the breakfast table where he had been opening the mail.  The tune is noteworthy for its profound lyric beauty and harmonic richness. It honors the composer’s son, Michael, who died in childhood. 

Enjoy this splendid video from Westminster Abbey – choir, congregation and thunderous organ YOUTUBE

Immortal, invisible, God only wise

Hymn: # 423,   Immortal, invisible, God only wise

Text:   Walter C. Smith

Tune:   St. Denio, a Welsh tune

Walter C. Smith based this text on 1 Timothy 1: 17: "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever." The six-stanza text was published in Smith's Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life (1867) and, after having been revised by Smith, in W. Garrett Horder's Congregational Hymns (1884). Further revisions were made by the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee.

"Immortal, Invisible" is a strong text of praise to God, who created and sustains the lives of all his creatures. The text focuses on the Creator of the universe, the invisible God whose visible works in nature testify to his glory and majesty. "Light" is the prevailing image in stanzas 1, 2, and 4 (see also Ps. 104:2); our inability to see God is not because of insufficient light but because the "splendor of light hides [God] from view."

ST. DENIO is based on "Can mlynedd i nawr" ("A Hundred Years from Now"), a traditional Welsh ballad popular in the early nineteenth century. It was first published as a hymn tune in John Roberts's Caniadau y Cyssegr (Hymns of the Sanctuary, 1839). The tune title refers to St. Denis, the patron saint of France. This sturdy tune bears vigorous performance supported by solid organ tone. The final stanza is a jubilant profession of how God blesses–save the extra reeds and mixtures for it!

The matching of this tune and text is strong evidence of the masterful work that Ralph Vaughn Williams did as music editor of the English Hymnal.   He used this tune as the theme of the second movement, the scherzo, in his Household Quartet: Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes (1944) for string quartet or any combination of instruments that could be assembled in a [wartime] household.

This hymn was sung in Westminster Abbey, London, England, at the 2002 funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

 

Come down, O Love Divine

# 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

#451 All hail the power of Jesus' name

Words:  Edward Perronet

Music: Miles Lane by William Shrubsole

Edward Perronet was the son of the Rev. Vincent Perronet, Vicar of Shoreham, Kent. For some time he was an intimate associate of the Wesleys, at Canterbury and Norwich. He afterwards became pastor of a dissenting congregation. He died in 1792. In 1784, he published a small volume, entitled "Occasional Verses, Moral and Social;" a book now extremely rare. At his death he is said to have left a large sum of money to Shrubsole, who was organist at Spafield's Chapel, London, and who had composed the tune "Miles Lane" for "All hail the power of Jesus' Name!

This hymn is a declaration of praise, but it’s also much more than that. The words both declare the majesty of Christ and task us with making that majesty known to all. Like many hymns describing the glory of God and the hope that one day all people will see that glory, this hymn alludes to Philippians 2:9-11: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” We long for this day, and declare our hope in its arrival in the text of this hymn.

Trivia:  Bing Crosby included the hymn in his 1951 album Beloved Hymns.

Here's a pretty wonderful rendition from the Crystal Cathedral in California.  YOUTUBE

Alleluia, alleluia, Hearts and voices heavenward raise

# 191   Alleluia, alleluia, Hearts and voices heavenward raise

Words: Christopher Wordsworth

Music:  Lux eoi, by Arthur Seymour Sullivan

Christopher Wordsworth--nephew of the great lake-poet, William Wordsworth--was born in 1807. He was educated at Winchester, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A., with high honours, in 1830; M.A. in 1833; D.D. in 1839. He was elected Fellow of his College in 1830, and public orator of the University in 1836; received Priest's Orders in 1835; head master of Harrow School in 1836; Canon of Westminster Abbey in 1844; Hulsean Lecturer at Cambridge in 1847-48; Vicar of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berks, in 1850; Archdeacon of Westminster, in 1865; Bishop of Lincoln, in 1868. His writings are numerous, and some of them very valuable. During the time that Bishop Wordsworth was Canon of Westminster, and Vicar of Stanford-in-the-Vale cum Goosey, he published his collection of hymns as:—The Holy Year; or Hymns for Sundays and Holy-days, And other Occasions. London, Rivingtons, 1862.

The birthday of composer Arthur Sullivan (May 13, 1842 - November 22, 1900) is probably observed today by a good many of his admirers, though most of them have far less interest in his church music and hymn tunes than in his comic operas written with W.S. Gilbert.

As we know, Sullivan did write a good number of hymn tunes, probably around 50, and arranged or harmonized several more.  Since we are still in the season of Eastertide, this seems to be the most appropriate tune for today. I think it's his second greatest tune, though it's far less known than his first, [Onward, Christian Soldiers]. Yes, it's a little trickier to sing, particularly the last line. The text, by Christopher Wordsworth, is "seeded" with spring-ish references to new life and growth to complement the resurrection theme.

From Hymnary.org and http://conjubilant.blogspot.com/2008/05/sir-arthur-sullivan.html

Here’s a rousing version for you!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKqBY5Hsfik

Good Christians all, rejoice and sing!

Hymn # 205

Good Christians all, rejoice and sing!

Words: Cyril A. Alington

Music: Gelobi sie Goff by Melchoir Vulpius

While Headmaster of Eton College, Cyril A. Alington (b. Ipswich, England, 1872; d. St. Leonards, Hertfordshire, England, 1955) wrote this text for Melchior Vulpius's tune GELOBT SEI GOTT. The hymn was published in Songs of Praise (1931). Stanley L. Osborne has written of Alington's stanzas, “They vibrate with excitement, they utter the encouragement of victory, and they stir the heart to praise and thanksgiving" (If Such Holy Song, 469). This text should not be mistaken for its Christmas counterpart "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice" (355); both texts originally began, "Good Christian men, rejoice."  Alington wrote the hymn with four stanzas but a fifth verse focusing on the Trinity was later added by Norman Mealy in 1982  and confirmed in the Episcopal Church's "The Hymnal 1982" in 1986.

Melchior Vulpius (b. Wasungen, Henneberg, Germany, c. 1570; d. Weimar, Germany, 1615) composed this tune as a setting for Michael Weisse's hymn "Gelobt sei Gott in höchsten Thron." Weisse's text was published with the tune in Vulpius's Ein Schon Geistlich Gesangbuch (1609). Because the text dates from the early sixteenth century, some scholars think the tune may have older roots. Born into a poor family named Fuchs, Vulpius had only limited educational opportunities and did not attend the university. He taught Latin in the school in Schleusingen, where he Latinized his surname, and from 1596 until his death served as a Lutheran cantor and teacher in Weimar. A distinguished composer, Vulpius wrote a St. Matthew Passion (1613), nearly two hundred motets in German and Latin, and over four hundred hymn tunes, many of which became popular in Lutheran churches, and some of which introduced the lively Italian balletto rhythms into the German hymn tunes.

Here's a rousing rendition from St. Peter's by~the~Sea Episcopal Church, Bay Shore, NY. Listen o that organ!! YOUTUBE

O for a thousand tongues to sing

Hymn # 493         O for a thousand tongues to sing

Words:                 Charles Wesley

Tune:                    Azmon

Composer:          Carl Gotthilf Glaser

This important text by Charles Wesley has suffered at the hands of past Revision Committees of the Hymnal.   It entered the Hymnal in 1871; was deleted in 1874; reentered in 1892, but was deleted in H16.  Restored in H40, the text is here matched with a tune [Azmon] associated with it in the hymnals of many other denominations.

This hymn opened John Wesley’s definitive A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (London, 1780) and has continued with the exception (1935) as the opening hymn of every official American hymnal in the Methodist Episcopal tradition since that time. 

In 1739, for the first anniversary of his conversion, Charles Wesley wrote an eighteen-stanza text beginning "Glory to God, and praise and love." It was published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1740), a hymnal compiled by Wesley and his brother John. The version in our Hymnal  comes from stanzas 1, 7-9, and 11-12 of this longer text. Wesley acquired the title phrase of this text from Peter Böhler, a Moravian, who said to Wesley, "If I had a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ with them all" (Böhler was actually quoting from Johann Mentzner's German hymn "O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte").

Here is the 15th verse now omitted …

Harlots, and publicans, and thieves
In holy triumph join;
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.

Enjoy this festive rendition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1YPmQibTRw

Sources:   Hymnary. org and The Hymnal 1982 Companion

In Christ there is no East or West

# 529  In Christ, there is no East or West

Words:  John Oxenham

Tune:  McKee, Afro-American Spiritual, adapted and harmonized by Harry T. Burleigh

William A. Dunkerley wrote these words for the Pageant of Darkness and Light at the London Missionary Society’s exhibition, The Orient in London, which ran from 1908 to 1914.  Many hymnals credit the words to John Oxenham, Dunkerley’s pseudonym.

MC KEE has an interesting history. According to a letter from Charles V. Stanford to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (who arranged the tune for piano in his Twenty-Four Negro Melodies, 1905), MC KEE was originally an Irish tune taken to the United States and adapted by African American slaves. It became associated with the spiritual "I Know the Angels Done Changed My Name," which appeared in J. B. T. Marsh's The Story of the Jubilee Singers with their Songs (1876).

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness

# 339  Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness

Words:  Johann Franck

Tune: Schmücke dich

Composer: Johann Cruger

 

When I was growing up in the Lutheran Church, the organist played this hymn every Sunday we took communion, so I profess to be very fond of this hymn.  For me it is one of the most moving and beautiful hymns. 

It entered the Episcopal Hymnal with the 1940 edition, bringing this and a number of German church songs into our Sunday services.  The text by Johann Franck first appeared in 1646 in his hymnal, Hundert-Thonige Vater Unsers Harffe.    There were originally 9 verses; our hymnal uses verses 1, 7, and 9.   It was translated  into English by Catherine Winkworth,  an Englishwoman who having spent a year in Germany, Lyra Germanica, containing numerous German hymns translated into English. She went on to publish another series of German hymns in 1858. In 1863, she came out with The Chorale Book for England, and in 1869, Christian Singers of Germany. More than any other single person, she helped bring the German chorale tradition to the English speaking world.

The tune’s composer, Johann Cruger, had a distinguished career in Austria and Germany as a musician teacher.  Of his hymn tunes, which are generally noble and simple in style, some 20 are still in use, the best known probably being that to "Nun danket alle Gott” which is set to No. 379 in Hymns Ancient & Modern, ed. 1875. His claim to notice in this work is as editor and contributor to several of the most important German hymnological works of the 16th century.

 

Here are the organ and choir of the National Cathedral.  Lovely.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjZ3JwrXwz8