Hymn Blog – May 19, 2019

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 19, 2019
The Blessing of the Animals
Psalm 148; Isaiah 11:6-9; Genesis 1:21-25

VU 217 – All Creatures of Our God and King (1225)
This hymn dates from the latter part of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, and so represents a condensed summary of his attitude and practice.  In keeping with his emphasis on simplicity and great concern for ordinary people, the text was created in the Umbrian dialect of Italian, rather than Latin, the language of educated people. It is, in fact, often identified as the oldest surviving religious poem in Italian.  Though it bears characteristic elements of Francis’s own style, he was working in the longstanding traditions of the Bible (e.g. Psalm 148) and of the Daily Office (e.g. the canticle Benedicite, omnia opera (Bless (the Lord), all you works (of the Lord)).
The tune name, LASST UNS ERFREUEN, comes from the first line of the Easter hymn with which it appeared in Ausserlesene, Catholische, Geistliche Kirchengesäng [Choice Catholic spiritual church-song] (Cologne, 1623).

VU 870 – Let All Creation Bless the Lord (1988)
Although included as a metrical version of Psalm 148, the psalm of the day, Carl Daw originally wrote this text as a paraphrase of the canticle Benedicte, omnia opera Domini, from the apocryphal book, the Song of the Three Young Men.  American Episcopalian Carl Perkins Daw Jr., taught English at the College of William and Mary prior to theological studies.  He was ordained a priest in 1982, and served as a pastor in Virginia and as vicar-chaplain at the University of Connecticut.    He served from 1996 to his retirement in 2009 as the Executive Director of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.  He was made a fellow of the Society in 2007.  He is a widely published hymn poet, with six of his texts appearing in Voices United and three in More Voices.  This text is from Daw’s book, A Year of Grace (1989).  In his “retirement” he produced the companion to the Presbyterian Church USA hymnal Glory to God  (2013, Louisville, Kentucky), which is one of the primary sources for the information in this blog.
The tune, ALLEIN GOTT IN DER HÖH, was adapted by Nikolaus Decius from a tenth century chant setting of the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” used at Easter.  His version was sung for the first time on Easter Sunday 1523 in Braunschweig.  This arrangement was written by Carl F. Schalk for the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

MV 37 – Each Blade of Grass (2005)
Keri Wehlander is an author, hymn lyricist, liturgical dancer and leader of retreats and workshops. Spirituality and the arts provide a primary focus for her work in various settings in both her native Canada and the U.S.  She has written this text , celebrating the many wonders of creation, and set it to a tune adapted from RHODE ISLAND, a shape note tune from The United States Sacred Harmony, a songbook published by Amos Pilsbury in Boston in 1799.  The arrangement is by Linnea Good.

MV 75 Holy Spirit Come to Us (Veni Sancte Spiritus) 1998
This Taizé chant is by Jacques Berthier.  Berthier composed much of the music for the Taizé Community in France.  Born in 1923, he was the son of two organists who were his first teachers.  He studied chant, harmony, composition and organ at the César Franck School in Paris.  He served as organist at St Ignace Jesuit Church in Paris from 1961 until his death in 1994.  He began his work on the Taizé repertoire in the 1970’s.

VU 291 – All Things Bright and Beautiful (1848)
The text, by Cecil Frances Alexander, is from her Hymns for Little Children (1848), which reached its 69th edition prior to the end of the 19th century.  Her work was strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement.  This text is based on the phrase “Maker of heaven and earth” in the Apostles Creed.  The tune, ROYAL OAK, is an English traditional melody from the 17th century, arranged by English composer Martin Shaw in 1915.

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