• Hymns

    Teach me, my God and King

    Hymn #476Text: George Herbert (1593-1633)Music: Traditional English carol tuneTune name: SANDYS THE TEXT Though he is celebrated as an English poet, George Herbert was born in Wales in 1593. His father’s family had been notable figures in the Welsh county of Montgomeryshire, having settled there in the thirteenth century. Herbert’s father died when he was only three and a half years old, and his mother soon moved the family to her native Shropshire, an adjoining English county. Herbert studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and after completing his M.A., he became a fellow of the College, then orator for the University. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1626. Most of…

  • Hymns

    Soldiers of Christ, arise

    Hymn #552Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)Music: Isaac Smith (c.1725-c.1800)Tune name: SILVER STREET   THE TEXT As typically sung, and as presented in our Hymnal, this hymn presents only a fraction of a long poem by Charles Wesley. First published in Wesley’s Hymns and Sacred Poems (1749), it was called “The Whole Armour of God” and presents a poetic expansion of the exhortation from St. Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. Wesley presented his hymn in eight-line stanzas; each stanza in our Hymnal contains half a stanza from the original. Below is the complete hymn, with the lines which appear in our Hymnal reproduced in bold. Soldiers of Christ, arise, And put your armour on,Strong…

  • Hymns

    God, my King, thy might confessing

    Hymn #280Text: Richard Mant (1776-1848)Music: Christian F. Witt (c.1660-1716)Tune name: STUTTGART THE TEXT This hymn was first published in 1824 in Richard Mant’s Book of Psalms, in an English Metrical Version. Mant was an Anglican deacon, priest, and bishop who was prolific in his writing on church history and biblical studies as well as in hymnody. He also translated many hymns from the Latin, including (Hymnal #67) “See the destined day arise.” The text is based on Psalm 145:1-12. Every line in the hymn captures some affirmation made in the Psalm. For example, the second half of Mant’s second stanza reads: “Age to age his works transmitteth; age to age…

  • Hymns

    The Church’s one Foundation

    Hymn #396Text: Samuel John Stone (1839-1900)Music: Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)Tune name: AURELIA   THE TEXT In 1863, John Colenso, the Bishop of Natal in South Africa, was deposed by his metropolitan, Bishop Robert Gray of Cape Town, because of various heretical views inspired by higher-critical approaches to Scripture. As Ian Bradley notes in The Book of Hymns, “The Colenso affair reopened long-standing divisions between liberals and conservatives within the Church of England.” A recently ordained curate in Windsor (the home of Windsor Castle) was deeply disturbed by the controversy. Three years later, at the age of twenty-seven, the young priest, Fr. Samuel John Stone, expressed his concern about divisions in the…

  • Hymns

    A mighty fortress is our God

    Hymn #551Text: Martin Luther (1483-1546)Music: Martin LutherTune name: EIN FESTE BURG THE TEXT Inspired by Psalm 46, this is the most famous of all of Martin Luther’s many hymns. Almost 500 years old, it remains a confident and vigorous affirmation of God’s faithfulness and protection, despite the very different circumstances faced by believers. The Protestant Reformer’s reference in the fourth stanza to “earthly powers” and their hostility to the Word was no doubt a reference to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But today this hymn is sung in Roman Catholic parishes, and the final stanza has a more ecumenical significance. Christians are united in affirming the ultimate powerlessness of the most…

  • Hymns

    Now that the daylight fills the sky

    Hymn #159Text: 6th century Latin hymnMusic: Benedictine plainsong; 17th-century Lutheran choraleTune name: IAM LUCIS ORTO SIDERE; HERR JESU CHRIST THE TEXT Before Amazon began to dominate our lives, “Prime” (with a capital P) was understood to refer to one of the times fixed in the life of the Church for liturgical prayer. Prime was the early-morning hour or “office,” typically tied to dawn. This hymn was regularly sung in the office of Prime in the Anglo-Irish liturgies, especially in the later Middle Ages, as it supplanted a hymn that had been appointed in the earlier Benedictine liturgy. The translation in our Hymnal is by the Anglican priest and prolific translator…

  • Hymns

    Majestic sweetness sits enthroned

    Hymn #353Text: Samuel Stennett (1728-1795)Music: 1635 Scottish PsalterTune name: CAITHNESS THE TEXT The son of a Baptist minister, Samuel Stennett followed his father into the ministry and was at the time of his death one of the most prominent of the dissenting ministers in London. He contributed 38 hymns to the notable 1787 hymnal, Selection of Hymns, edited by another notable Baptist preacher, John Rippon (1751-1836). Our Hymnal includes four of the original nine stanzas in the hymn; the others are included below in italics: To Christ, the Lord, let every tongueits noblest tribute bring:when he’s the subject of the songwho can refuse to sing? Survey the beauty of his…

  • Hymns

    O day of rest and gladness

    Hymn #474Text: Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885)Music: Early 17th-century German folk songTune name: WOODBIRD THE TEXT This is one of nine hymns in our Hymnal by Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln, nephew of the poet, William Wordsworth, and the most celebrated Greek scholar of his day. In 1862, he published The Holy Year, or, Hymns for Sundays and holy days throughout the year. “O day of rest and gladness” was the first hymn in the collection, an appropriate placement as the hymn is about the blessedness of every Sunday. The hymn reminds us that Sunday is the first day of the week, the first day of all Creation, and the day of…

  • 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 nearly…