Hymn Blog – October 13, 2019

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 13, 2019

Psalm 111; Luke 17:11-19

Thanksgiving Sunday

VU 228 – Sing Praises to God (1875)
This hymn was written by Henry Williams Baker.  The great hymnologist John Julian, in his ground-breaking Dictionary of Hymnology (1907) included the following entry for Baker.
“Baker, Sir Henry Williams, Bart., eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker, born in London, May 27, 1821, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated, B.A. 1844, M.A. 1847. Taking Holy Orders in 1844, he became, in 1851, Vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire. This benefice he held to his death, on Monday, Feb. 12, 1877. He succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1851. Sir Henry’s name is intimately associated with hymnody. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, ‘Oh! what if we are Christ’s,’ which he contributed to Murray’s Hymnal for the Use of the English Church, 1852. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 33 in all. These were contributed at various times to Murray’s Hymnal, Hymns Ancient & Modern and the London Mission Hymn Book, 1876-7. The last contains his three latest hymns. These are not included in Hymns Ancient & Modern. Of his hymns four only are in the highest strains of jubilation, another four are bright and cheerful, and the remainder are very tender, but exceedingly plaintive, sometimes even to sadness. Even those which at first seem bright and cheerful have an undertone of plaintiveness, and leave a dreamy sadness upon the spirit of the singer. Poetical figures, far-fetched illustrations, and difficult compound words, he entirely eschewed. In his simplicity of language, smoothness of rhythm, and earnestness of utterance, he reminds one forcibly of the saintly Lyte. In common with Lyte also, if a subject presented itself to his mind with striking contrasts of lights and shadows, he almost invariably sought shelter in the shadows. The last audible words which lingered on his dying lips were the third stanza of his exquisite rendering of the 23rd Psalm, ‘The King of Love, my Shepherd is:—

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His Shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.’

This tender sadness, brightened by a soft calm peace, was an epitome of his poetical life.
Sir Henry’s labours as the Editor of Hymns Ancient & Modern were very arduous. The trial copy was distributed amongst a few friends in 1859; first ed. published 1861, and the Appendix, in 1868; the trial copy of the revised ed. was issued in 1874, and the publication followed in 1875. In addition he edited Hymns for the London Mission, 1874, and Hymns for Mission Services, n.d., c. 1876-7. He also published Daily Prayers for those who work hard; a Daily Text Book, &c. In Hymns Ancient & Modern there are also four tunes (33, 211, 254, 472) the melodies of which are by Sir Henry, and the harmonies by Dr. Monk. He died Feb. 12, 1877. “
The setting, LAUDATE DOMINUM, was adapted from an anthem written by Hubert Parry in 1894.  It first appeared as a hymn tune in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1916) as a setting for this hymn.

VU 245 – Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet (1975)
The words and tune are by Natalie Sleeth, adapted from one of her anthems.  Sleethwas born in Evanston, Illinois, and began piano lessons at the age of four. She also sang in various choral ensembles while growing up. She studied music theory, piano, and organ at Wellesley College in Massachusetts (BA, 1952). In the year of her graduation she married Ronald E. Sleeth (1921–1985), a homiletics professor whose teaching career brought her in contact with successive communities of theologians and musicians in Evanston, Nashville, Dallas, and Denver. In some of those places, especially Chicago and Nashville, she held organist positions in churches. Her publishing career was launched in Dallas as the result of a suggestion of her choral arranging teacher at Southern Methodist University, Lloyd Pfautsch (1921–2003), who encouraged her to submit her choral pieces for publication, among them a “Jazz Gloria” composed for the Christmas worship service of the university’s Perkins School of Theology. It was an immediate success and its publication propelled her into a remarkable career of over two hundred published works, ranging from children’s songs to full anthems. Sleeth was a thoughtful and talented poet and composer who usually wrote both words and music. Her compositional technique in part involved recording musical ideas and playing them back as she improvised at the keyboard. Her works are noted for their accessibility to choirs and their directors with little formal musical training, and their immediate reception by school and church audiences. Many are found in her Sunday Songbook: A Collection of Unison Songs for Any Age (Chapel Hill, NC, 1976). Background information on some of her compositions can be found in her devotional book, Adventures for the Soul (Carol Stream, IL, 1987).

VU 227 – For the Fruit of All Creation (1970)
This hymn, often sung in the season of thanksgiving, celebrates God’s gifts and calls us to responsible use of them.  It is highly appropriate as we prepare to begin our annual “Season for Commitment.”   While the first stanza addresses typical harvest themes, the second reflects on our work as Christians in sharing harvests, and the third moves from the literal to the metaphorical in celebrating “harvests of the Spirit” and all God’s gifts to us.  The text is by Fred Pratt Green (1903 – 2000), English Methodist cleric, poet and hymn writer.  The text was written for the tune EAST ACKLAM, but the Welsh tune AR HYD Y NOS has been preferred in most hymn books, including Songs for a Gospel People (Winfield B.C., 1988), a supplement to the Anglican/United Church Hymnary.
AR HYD Y NOS was first published in Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (London, 1784). It originated as a Welsh harp tune with a recurring refrain that provides its name “Ar hyd y nos” (throughout the night). 


MV 16 – Come and Fill Our Hearts (1982)
Our prayer response comes from the Taizé Community, an ecumenical monastic community in Taizé, France, which welcomes thousands of pilgrims each year from around the world to times of retreat and worship. The Taizé Community began experimenting in the late 1950s and early 1960s with new musical forms for worship, simple songs intended as vehicles for prayer, written primarily in Latin at first and increasingly in the languages of the many pilgrims who attend each year. Songs from Taizé are now widely sung in churches throughout the world.

VU 236 – Now Thank We All Our God (1636)
This wonderful hymn of praise was written by Lutheran cantor and pastor Martin Rinckart, ca. 1636.  He wrote it as a table grace for his family amid the famine, plague and destruction of the Thirty Years War.  As Carl Daw states in his Glory to God: A Companion (Louisville, 2016), “There is much more gratitude here for much less than the benefits enjoyed by many people who now sing this hymn nonchalantly.” The English translation by Catherine Winkworth appeared in 1858.
The hymn is set to Johann Crüger’s chorale tune NUN DANKET, first published in Praxis Pietatis Melica [Practice of piety in song], 3rd ed. (Berlin, 1647).

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