• Hymns

    O come, O come, Emmanuel

    Text: Traditional antiphons Music: 15th-century plainsong, adapted by Thomas Helmore (1811-1890) Tune name: VENI EMMANUEL   THE TEXT This is one of the most familiar of our Advent hymns. In its earliest form may date back to a community of fifth-century Jewish Christians. The first translation in English appeared in John Mason Neale’s The Hymnal Noted (1851). In Neale’s version, the first verse began with the words, “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel.” Our Hymnal includes seven verses, each of which addresses the Messiah with a different Biblical name: Immanuel, Wisdom, Lord of Might, Branch of Jesse, Key of David, Morning Star, and King of Nations. Before these seven verses became a…

  • Hymns

    Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin (In peace and joy I now depart)

    The Song of Simeon — commonly referred to as the Nunc dimittis, the first two Latin words in the canticle — has been part of Christian worship since Jesus was a baby. Before the Reformation in the West, it would typically have been chanted in Latin by clergy. In the 1520s, Martin Luther — eager to share the privilege of affirming the sentiments of Simeon’s song with all believers — wrote a 4-stanza hymn that paraphrased and amplified Simeons’s affirmations: 1. Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin / in Gotts Wille; In peace and joy I now depart / At God’s disposing; getrost ist mir mein Herz und Sinn, / sanft…

  • Hymns

    Creator of the stars of night

    Text: Anonymous, 9th century; translated by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) Music: Sarum Plainsong, Mode IV Tune name: CONDITOR ALME   THE TEXT This hymn is a translation and slight musical adaptation of a 7th-century Latin hymn, Conditor alme siderum. Not surprisingly — since this text refers to the stars of night and to the coming of the Savior into the world — this hymn was first sung in monasteries during Advent as part of Vespers (comparable to our Evening Prayer liturgy). The point of view presented in the hymn is clearly one anticipating the Second Advent in light of the history that led to and beyond Christ’s first coming. The…

  • Hymns

    O God, our help in ages past

    Text: Isaac Watts (1674-1748) Music: William Croft (1678-1727) Tune name: ST. ANNE   THE TEXT Written in 1714 by Isaac Watts, this hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 90. Originally published with nine verses, most hymnals (including ours) include only six. 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 this one, which each felt fulfilled all…

  • Hymns

    O Food of men wayfaring

    Text: Maintzich Gesangbuch, 1661 Music: [1] Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510-1559); [2] 15th C. German melody, adapt. by Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450-1517) Tune name: [1] O ESCA VIATORUM; [2] O WELT, ICH MUSS DICH LASSEN   THE TEXT The first known publication of the text for this anonymous hymn is in a Catholic hymnal published in Würzburg in 1647 (although the later 1661 hymnal, the Maintzich Gesangbuch, is credited as the source for the translator). In 1906 it was translated for the first edition of The English Hymnal by John Athelstan Laurie Riley (1854-1945). In addition to translating a number hymns from Latin and Greek, Riley is also the author of the “Ye watchers and…

  • Hymns

    Jesus, Lover of my soul

    Hymn #415 Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788) Music: Joseph Parry (1841-1903) Tune name: ABERYSTWYTH   THE TEXT Originally titled ”On Temptation” — since sin and temptation are the foes from which the believer is seeking refuge — this hymn was first published in 1740, about two years after Charles Wesley’s conversion experience. The first word of Wesley’s original text, “Jesus,” was originally (and still in some hymnals) rendered “Jesu,” which is a Latinized spelling of the Greek vocative, reflecting the fact that Jesus is being addressed in the opening sentence. The words of the opening lines were sometimes regarded as too intimate for public worship, so, in the nineteenth century, some hymnal…

  • Hymns

    Jesus Christ is ris’n today

    Text: 14th century Bohemian Latin hymn Music: John Walsh (c.1750-1825), rev. by John Arnold (1720-1792) Tune name: EASTER HYMN THE TEXT The original Latin hymn, “Surrexit Christus hodie,” references Matthew 28:6, Acts 2:32, 1 Peter 3:18, and Revelation 1:17-18. It was translated into English by the Irish cleric John Baptist Walsh for his Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns, partly newly composed, partly translated from the High German and Latin Hymns, first published in 1708. The fourth verse, with its trinitarian conclusion, was added by Charles Wesley in 1749. THE TEXT: EASTER HYMN as we know it is based on a much more elaborate and ornamental tune that…

  • Hymns

    Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness

    Text: Johann Franck (1618-1677) Music: Johann Crüger (1598-1662) Tune name: SCHMÜCKE DICH   THE TEXT This is one of many German hymns translated into English by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878). The complete text (with nine stanzas) first appeared in a 1653 Gesangbuch published by Johann Crüger, who wrote the tune. Franck practiced law for many years and held many civil posts including mayor of Guben. He wrote about 110 hymns, and was one of the most noted poets of his day. In his classic text, A Dictionary of Hymnology (2nd. ed. 1907), John Julian summarized the text of this hymn as an exhortation to the soul to arise and draw near…

  • Hymns

    Alleluia, sing to Jesus

    Text: William C. Dix (1837-1898) Music: Rowland Hugh Prichard (1811-1887) Tune name: HYFRYDOL   THE TEXT English hymn and carol writer William C. Dix wrote this text for use during Holy Communion at Ascension services. It was first published in Altar Songs, Verses on the Eucharist (1867). THE TUNE HYFRYDOL is Welsh for “tuneful” or “pleasant.” This confident and stirring melody was written by a nineteen-year-old amateur musician, Rowland Hugh Prichard. He wrote it in 1830, and first published it in 1844 in Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singer’s Friend), a children’s hymnal that included forty or so other tunes he had composed. Prichard’s day job was as a textile worker; he…

  • Hymns

    Come, thou long-expected Jesus

    Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788) Music: Christian F. Witt (c.1660-1716) Tune name: STUTTGART   THE TEXT This Advent hymn was first published in Charles Wesley’s Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord (1744). As every good Advent hymn should do, it refers to both comings of our Lord, with numerous biblical allusions. The first and second stanzas reflect the longing of ancient Israel for a Redeemer. The third stanza connects Christ’s rule of all things with his rule in us, an idea picked up in the last stanza with the reference of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, coupled with an anticipation of our ascent to the presence of God.…