• Hymns

    Glory be to Jesus

    Hymn #335 Text: 18th Century Italian hymn Translation: Edward Caswall (1814-1878) Music: Friedrich Filitz (1804-1860) Tune name: CASWALL   THE TEXT Our hymn includes five stanzas of Edward Caswell’s translation of this Italian hymn, the theme of which is the power of the blood of Christ. One of the missing stanzas reads: Abel’s blood for vengeance pleaded to the skies; but the blood of Jesus for our pardon cries. This stanza clearly has in view the claim made in Hebrews 12:24, that the blood of Jesus “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Other texts alluded to in this hymn include Ephesians 1:6-8 and 1 Peter 1:18-19. 1. Glory…

  • Hymns

    Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands

    Hymn #201 Text: St. Ephraim the Syrian (c.306-373); Translation: C. W. Humphreys (1840-1921) Music: David McKinley Williams (1887-1978) Tune name: MALABAR   THE TEXT The fourth-century Ephraim the Syrian was a deacon and theologian who left behind a significant body of sermons and hymns, including this Communion hymn: Strengthen, O Lord, the hands which are stretched out to receive the Holy Thing: vouchsafe that they may daily bring forth fruit to thy divinity; that they may be worthy of all things which they have sung to thy praise within thy sanctuary, and may ever laud thee. Grant, moreover, my Lord, that the ears which have heard the voice of thy…

  • Hymns

    My faith looks up to thee

    Hymn #449 Text: Ray Palmer (1808-1887) Music: Lowell Mason (1792-1782) Tune name: OLIVET   THE TEXT The author of several volumes of religious poetry, Ray Palmer was a Congregational minister in New England, New York and New Jersey. In his study Hymns and Human Life, British hymnologist Erik Routley writes that most American hymns from Palmer’s time “have the stamp of Boston, Massachusetts on them — serene culture, settled prosperity.” They are “always neat, always polished, never written at high devotional pressure,” unlike the earlier (and English) hymns of Watts and Wesley. Ray Palmer’s hymns broke this mold: “he has all the American polish, but is unique in the warmth…

  • Hymns

    Forty days and forty nights

    Hymn #55 Text: George Hunt Smyttan (1822-1870) Music: Martin Herbst (1654-1681) Tune name: HEINLEIN   THE TEXT Smyttan, an Anglican priest, first published this hymn in the Penny Post in 1856 along with two other Lenten poems. This hymn originally had nine stanzas (our Hymnal retains five of these, siginficantly altered from the original). In one of the stanzas exclude from our hymn, the conditions of Christ’s days in the wilderness are described colorfully: Sunbeams scorching all the day; chilly dewdrops nightly shed; prowling beasts about thy way; stones thy pillow, sand thy bed. Another stanza describes the worldly distractions that deter our penitence: And shall we in silken ease, festal…

  • Hymns

    O Lord, and Master of us all

    Text: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) Music: English Melody, pub. c.1721 Tune name: WALSALL   THE TEXT In 1866, the New England poet John Greenleaf Whittier published a 132-line poem called “Our Master.” The poem reflects Whittier’s Quaker upbringing and consequent suspicion of the external expressions of faith (such as sacraments and liturgies). Nevertheless, Episcopalians began singing portions of “Our Master“ in 1916, when six stanzas from the poem were published as this hymn. The first stanza is the same as the 7th stanza of another hymn taken from this long poem, “Immortal Love, for ever full” (#360). 1. O Lord, and Master of us all, whate’er our name or sign,…

  • Hymns

    Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts

    Hymn #485 Text: Latin hymn, 12th century Music: Sarum plainsong Tune name: CHRISTE REDEMPTOR THE TEXT The 5 stanzas in this hymn are taken from a 12th-century hymn, “Jubilus rithmicus de amore Jesu,” which is often attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Another hymn, “Jesus, the very thought of thee” (#462) also contains portions from this medieval text. The Hymnal 1940 Companion notes: Whatever its source, it remains one of the most moving expressions of medieval piety. Its basic theme is the love of the soul for God, beginning with an introduction which defines a sense of the mystic presence of God as the supreme joy of mankind. The…

  • Hymns

    Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost

    Text: Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) Music: Friedrich Filitz (1804-1860) Tune name: CAPETOWN   THE TEXT The nephew of the poet William Wordsworth, the author of this hymn was a priest and later a bishop in the Church of England. An accomplished Greek scholar and prolific poet, Christopher Wordsworth published a notable collection of his own hymns in 1862 entitled The Holy Year, or, Hymns for Sundays and holy days throughout the year. Nine of his hymns are in our Hymnal, including “See the Conqueror mounts in triumph” and “O day of rest and gladness.” “Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost” was included in The Holy Year as a hymn appropriate for Quinquagesima, as the epistle…

  • Hymns

    The King of love my shepherd is

    Hymn #345 Text: Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) Music: Traditional Irish melody Tune name: ST. COLUMBA THE TEXT Paraphrases of texts from the psalms are legion, and no psalm received more earnest attention than Psalm 23. George Herbert’s recasting is (not surprisingly) one of the best; our choir often sings Herbert’s poetry to Thomas Tallis’s haunting THIRD MODE MELODY. The first stanza runs: The God of love my shepherd is and He that doth me feed; While he is mine and I am his, What can I want or need? The drama introduced by this rhetorical question is just one of the features that makes Herbert’s paraphrase so wonderful. Henry Willams…

  • Hymns

    Psalm 51 (C.H. Wilton)

    Psalm 51 is one of seven penitential psalms, (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143). The first three words in the Latin text of this psalm are Miserere mei, Deus (“Have mercy on me, O God”), and musical settings of the psalm — of which there have been many — are often referred to simply as Miserere. Verse 4 has multiple translations, which may lead to some confusion. The version in the Book of Common Prayer (1928) renders the verse: “Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified in thy saying and clear when thou shalt judge.” Other translations (based on the Septuagint…

  • Hymns

    My God, I love thee

    Text: 17th century Spanish hymn Music: Henry J. Gauntlett (1805-1876) Tune name: ST. FULBERT   THE TEXT There was a long-standing tradition that the Spanish poem translated in this hymn was written by St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), co-founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). But as there is no positive evidence for this claim, the hymn is today regarded as from an unknown source. The text is from the point-of-view of an individual believer (rather than the Church as a community of faith) and expresses a simple sentiment: I love Christ because he loved me — to the point of an agonizing death. Christ’s loving sacrifice is all the…