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

Christ is the world's true light #542

# 542     Christ is the world’s true light

Text:      George Wallace Briggs

Tune:     St. Joan

Composer:  Percy E.B. Coller

George W. Briggs wrote this text as a "missionary hymn" to emphasize one of the concepts of modern missions: “In Christ all races meet.” The text was published in the Advent section of Oxford's Songs of Praise (1931) and in Briggs's Songs of Faith (1945), in which it was entitled "The Light of the World."

The text begins by affirming Christ's own saying, "I am the Light of the world" (John 8: 12). Christ is the light and daystar who brings his people salvation from the darkness of sin. Borrowing one of Paul's memorable teachings in Galatians 3:28 and Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17, the text confesses the essential unity of all humanity and especially the oneness of the family of God. Only when the nations and all peoples submit to Christ's reign will our "groaning" world experience true peace and redemption.

Percy E.B. Coller composed ST. JOAN and submitted it anonymously for publication in The Hymnal 1940, where it was set to Brigg’s text.  Coller must have enjoyed the companionship of a saintly wife because he named this tune in her honor.  The tune requires confident accompaniment and a brisk tempo that thrives on one pulse per bar.