Sunday, June 26, 2011

Philip Doddridge

Philip Doddridge (June 26, 1702 - October 26, 1751) is probably the third-most popular hymnwriter from the eighteenth century, behind Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, in the number of his texts which are still sung today.

Both of his grandfathers were ministers (though he never knew them); his mother's father lived in Germany for a time and returned to England with a Luther Bible, which was passed down to Philip, who was eventually to follow in his grandfathers' profession. His mother, Monica, taught him stories from the Bible when he was a child, pointing out the scenes as painted on Delft tiles surrounding the family fireplace.

For Doddridge's previous birthdays I have used more familiar hymns, but this one is probably not so well-known. Like all his texts, it was not published during his lifetime.

O Zion, tune your voice,
And raise your hands on high;
Tell all the earth your joys,
Proclaim salvation nigh;
Cheerful in God,
Arise and shine
While rays divine
Stream all abroad.

God gilds your mourning face
With beams that cannot fade;
God's all-resplendent grace
Is poured around your head;
The nations round
Your form shall view
With luster new
Divinely crowned.

In honor to God's name
Reflect that sacred light;
And loud that grace proclaim,
Which makes the whole world bright;
Pursue God's praise
Till sovereign love
In worlds above,
The glory raise.

Philip Doddridge, 1755; alt.
John Darwall, 1770

The church that Doddridge pastored in Northhampton for more than twenty years is still open today as the Castle Hill United Reformed Church (interior pictured below).

A note on the tune: The
Hallelujah meter, or as it is often written out, ( is not so widely used in modern hymnwriting, and overall there are fewer tunes written for it than some of the more oft-used ones. I think it could be due to the fact that there is only one truly great tune that has been written to fit that meter, the one above by John Darwall. I have used two others previously at the blog, BEVAN and SAMUEL, but neither is a good fit for these words. I looked at several others: ZEBULON was not quite right, and ST. SWITHIN was hopelessly Victorian. LAUS DEO and ST. GODRIC were both closer to the right feel, but really, if anyone was going to sing this hymn today, why would they not choose the familiar DARWALL, which is about as joyful a tune as you could want, proceeding to a powerful climax.

Three Years Ago: Philip Doddridge

Two Years Ago: Philip Doddridge

One Year Ago: Philip Doddridge

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