• Hymns

    O God, our help in ages past

    Hymn #289Text: Isaac Watts (1674-1748)Music: William Croft (1678-1727)Tune name: ST. ANNE THE TEXT This hymn is one of the many Psalm paraphrases by Isaac Watts, in this case Psalm 90. It first appeared in 1719 in his Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. In Great Britain, this hymn is regarded by many as a second National Anthem.  Ian Bradley, in The Book of Hymns, writes It is said that when Dr. Benjamin Jowett, that most eminent Victorian who was master of Balliol College, asked a group of fellow Oxford dons to note down their list of favourite hymns, all of them independently put down just…

  • Hymns

    I bind unto myself today

    Hymn #268Text: St. Patrick (372-466)Music: Traditional Irish MelodyTune name: ST. PATRICK, DEIRDRE   THE TEXT In John Julian’s 1907 Dictionary of Hymnology, we read: “St. Patrick’s Irish Hymn is referred to in Tirechan’s Collections (A.D. 690). It was directed to be sung in “all monasteries and churches through the whole of Ireland, . . .  which is a proof that it was at that time universally acknowledged to be his composition.” Although there have been numerous translations and paraphrases of the hymn into English, the one we sing was the work of Mrs. Cecil F. Alexander (1818-1895), the wife of a prominent Irish bishop. Mrs. Alexander was the author of…

  • Hymns

    Praise, my Soul, the King of Heaven

    Hymn #282Text: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)Music: John Goss (1800-1880)Tune name: LAUDA ANIMA THE TEXT Born in Scotland, Henry Francis Lyte studied in Dublin with the intention of entering the medical profession. Instead, he took Holy Orders in 1815 and eventually became a curate in Devonshire. He published several collections of poems during his lifetime. In 1818, a fellow clergyman developed a fatal illness. Lyte, a young clergyman, observed his colleague’s suffering and death with acute attentiveness. He later wrote about his friend: “He died happy under the belief that though he had deeply erred, there was One whose death and sufferings would atone for his delinquencies, and be accepted for…

  • Hymns

    Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle

    Hymn #66 Text: Venantius Honorius Fortunatus (c. 540-c. 600) Translated by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) Music: Sarum Plainsong Tune name: PANGE LINGUA   THE TEXT The first line of the 6th-century Latin poem from which this hymn is taken is more literally translated: “Sing, tongue, the battle of glorious combat.” This soldierly imagery may offend the more tender followers of gentle Jesus, meek and mild. But this hymn insists that Christ’s death must be seen in triumphal terms. Earlier generations of Christians were more aware than we of the fact that our salvation involves the defeating of dangerous and powerful enemies. One of the oldest works of English poetry is The…

  • Hymns

    All glory, laud, and honor

    Hymn #62 Text: Theodulph of Orléans (d. 821) Music: Melchior Teschner (1584-1635) Tune name: ST. THEODULPH   THE TEXT As Bishop of Orléans during the reign of Charlemagne, Theodulph was a significant figure in guiding the theological reforms during the Carolingian Renaissance of the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Scholars believe he was also the author of the Libri Carolini, the “Books of Charles,” commissioned by the emperor to clarify understanding of the use of sacred images. One scholar judges that the Libri Carolini contain “much the fullest statement of the Western attitude to representational art that has been left to us by the Middle Ages.” The text of this Palm Sunday hymn was…

  • Hymns

    God himself is with us

    Hymn #477 Text: Gerhardt Tersteegen (1697-1769) Music: German melody Tune name: TYSK   THE TEXT Gerhardt Tersteegen was born into a family that belonged to the Reformed Church. His father’s death when he was just six years old so impoverished the family that they were unable to afford schooling for him, so at 16 he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law. He soon set up trade as a weaver, which left him more time for his studies of theology. He was more attracted to mystical writers than to the Reformed scholars and preachers from his family’s tradition. John Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology (1907) reports: During the years 1719-24 he passed through a…

  • Hymns

    Come, ye disconsolate

    Hymn #483 Text: Thomas Moore (1779-1852); Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) Music: Samuel Webbe (1740-1816) Tune name: CONSOLATION   THE TEXT This hymn was first published in 1824 in a collection intended for soloists, not choirs or congregations. It was later adjusted to make it more usable as a congregational hymn. The author of the first two stanzas — Thomas Moore — was a celebrated Irish poet and a close friend of Lord Byron (as well as his literary executor). Moore was a popular writer of secular verse, many of which were set to Irish tunes. These include “The Last Rose of Summer” and “The Minstrel Boy.” His popularity has led some…

  • Hymns

    My God, thy table now is spread

    Hymn #203 Text: Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) Music: Edward Miller (1731-1807) Tune name: ROCKINGHAM   THE TEXT A prominent nonconformist educator and minister in the 18th century, Philip Doddridge’s writing had an influence in the lives of William Wilberforce, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, and many others. He wrote more than 400 hymns, many of which were summarized his sermons, and none of which published in his lifetime, although many were printed as “handouts” for temporary congregational use. This hymn was first published in 1755, with the caption: “God’s Name profaned, when his Table is treated with contempt. Malachi 1:12. Applied to the Lord’s Supper.” The text in our Hymnal is significantly altered…

  • Hymns

    O Splendor of God’s glory bright

    Hymn #158 Text: St. Ambrose (?) (339-397) Music: [1] Sarum Plainsong [2] Piae Cantiones (1582), arr. by Michael Praetorius (1572-1621) Tune name: [1] SPLENDOR PATERNAE [2] PUER NOBIS   THE TEXT While this hymn has been traditionally attributed to St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, some scholars question his authorship. It has long been the office hymn for Lauds on Mondays, having thus been sung every week for well over a thousand years. The translation in our Hymnal is by Robert Bridges (1844-1930), English poet laureate, literary scholar, and cultivated musician. The Hymnal reproduces 5 of the 9 verses that Bridges translated; below, the omitted verses are presented in italics. 1.…

  • Hymns

    We sing the praise of him who died

    Hymn #340 Text: Thomas Kelly (1769-1855) Music: 17th century German hymn Tune name: BRESLAU   THE TEXT Born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Thomas Kelly intended to go into the law. A deep spiritual yearning took him in another direction. Having taken Holy Orders in 1792, Kelly became an intense and earnest preacher in churches in Dublin, so much so that his Archbishop inhibited from preaching in the city. Kelly found another mode of expression of his deep piety in hymn writing. He is said to have written 765 hymns, three of which are in our Hymnal, including the triumphant Ascension hymn “The head that once was crown with…