Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Henry Alford

The Reverend Henry Alford was born today in London in 1810.  Ordained in the Church of England in 1833, he eventually was named Dean of Canterbury Cathedral in 1857.  He is still known today for his four-volume translation and commetary on the New Testament.

For our purposes here he is best known as the author of Come, ye thankful people, come, but he wrote many other texts and even some tunes, and also edited hymnals, including Psalms and Hymns (1844) and The Year of Praise (1867) which was especially for use at Canterbury. Actually, as a boy of 11, he compiled his first hymnal, which he titled A Collection of Hymns for Sundry Occasions (unpublished, alas!). 

Today's hymn by Alford is a response to the parable of the Prodigal Son, from Luke 15:11-32, updated a bit for contemporary worship.

Hark! through the courts of heav'n
Voices of angels sound;
Those that were dead now live again;
Those that were lost are found.

God of unfailing grace,
Send down thy Spirit now;
Raise the dejected soul to hope,
And make the lofty bow.

In countries far from home
On earthly husks we feed;
Back to our shelt'ring home, O God,
Our wand'ring footsteps lead.

Then at each soul's return
The heav'nly harps shall sound,
Those that were dead now live again;
Those that were lost are found.

Henry Alford, 1844; alt.
Tune: SWABIA (S.M.)
Johann Speiss, 1745;
arr. William Henry Havergal, 1847

You might suspect that I like quite a few of Alford's hymns, as several have already been seen on the blog (click on his tag below).  My particular favorites include We walk by faith and not by sight and Ten thousand times ten thousand.

P.S. - The art above is detail from The Return of the Prodigal Son (1670) by Bartolome Esteban Murillo.

Seven Years Ago: Henry Alford

Six Years Ago: Henry Alford

Five Years Ago: Charles Crozat Converse

Three Years Ago: Henry Alford

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