Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All Speech Flow to Music (Day Twelve)

On the last day of Christmas we look back to the message of the angels, but also forward to apply it to our own time.

The Quaker poet
John Greenleaf Whittier was primarily known for his anti-slavery activities; they were the focus of his poetry and his editorship of The National Era and other abolitionist journals. Some biographical sources suggest that Whittier's political activity ceased after the Civil War, but this text from 1873, adapted from his poem A Christmas Carmen, shows his support for the cause of peace.

Sound over all waters, reach out from all lands,
The chorus of voices, the clasping of hands;
Sing hymns that were sung by the stars of the morn,
Sing songs of the angels when Jesus was born!

Sing concord of nations! in chorals of love
Sing out the war-vulture and sing in the dove,
The long night is ending and dawn has begun;
Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun!

Blow, bugles of battle, the marches of peace;
East, west, north, and south let the long quarrel cease
Sing the song of great joy from the angels begun,
All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as one!

John Greenleaf Whittier, 1873; adapt.
Charles H. Gabriel, 1912

This tune by Charles Gabriel first appeared in the Presbyterian Psalter (1912) used with a paraphrase of Psalm 24, Ye gates lift your heads, the glad summons obey. Whittier's text has also been sung to ST DENIO and CRADLE SONG.

In 1982, the text was set to music by composer Paul Halley, organist and music director at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in honor of Coretta Scott King, who was coming to preach at the cathedral. The piece was first sung on that occasion, and on others since.

Finally, here we are at the end of our twelve days of Christmas music. Hope you have found something interesting that you had not seen before. It's been fun for me but I'm not sure I'll jump to do another long daily series anytime soon!


AuntE said...

Thank you for your 12 Days of Christmas. I wish there was more emphasis on it in the church today. I find personally that after Christmas Eve service and family on Christmas Day, I am ready to celebrate!

As for the daily series, I know for me to blog takes at least 1 hour - research, writing and editing per entry. It's more time consuming than one might think...

Anonymous said...

Just like AuntE, I enjoyed these entries very much. Thank you. Look forward to your next article.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Thanks, CWS! "Sound over all waters" is a favorite of mine, though I think I've only sung it to ST. DENIO (I see Cyber Hymnal also sets it to CRADLE SONG). Will try Lansing tomorrow.

Happy Epiphany!

Hail the blest morn! See the great Mediator
Down from the regions of glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the Babe in the manger:
Lo! for his guard, the bright angels attend!

Brightest and best of the songs of the morning...

Leland = Haruo