Friday, January 29, 2016

William McKinley

U.S. President William McKinley, born today in 1843, served in office from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. He became a Methodist at age sixteen, and was known in later years for praying and reading the Bible daily.  He apparently considered ordination, and his mother believed that he would be a Methodist bishop some day.

McKinley remained close to his mother throughout her life, and when she became ill in 1897 he had a direct telegraph wire installed between her home and the White House so that he could receive frequent updates on her condition.  When he learned that she was near death, he wired back "Tell Mother I'll be there."  He traveled to Canton, Ohio by train and was at her side when she died on December 12, 1897.

The story spread through the news media and "Tell Mother I'll be there" became a well-known phrase in its day.  Gospel song writer Charles M. Fillmore was inspired to write today's song from the President's words, changing the context a bit.

When I was but a little child, how well I recollect
How I would grieve my mother with my folly and neglect;
And now that she has gone to heav’n I miss her tender care:
O Savior, tell my mother, I’ll be there!

Tell mother I’ll be there, in answer to her prayer;
This message, blessèd Savior, to her bear!
Tell mother I’ll be there, heav’n’s joys with her to share;
Yes, tell my darling mother I’ll be there.

Though I was often wayward, she was always kind and good;
So patient, gentle, loving when I acted rough and rude;
My childhood griefs and trials she would gladly with me share:
O Savior, tell my mother, I’ll be there!

One day a message came to me, it bade me quickly come
If I would see my mother, ere the Savior took her home;
I promised her, before she died, for heaven to prepare:
O Savior, tell my mother, I’ll be there!

Text and Tune: Charles M. Fillmore, 1898
TELL MOTHER I'LL BE THERE (Irregular with refrain)

McKinley only survived his mother by a few years and was murdered by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz six months into his second term of office.  He lived just over a week after being shot, and his last words were reportedly "Nearer, my God to thee, Nearer to thee..."

Following his death, his favorite hymns were widely reported: Nearer, my God to thee and Lead, kindly light, and both were sung during the funeral services at the Capitol and elsewhere.  Enterprising music publishers released the sheet music to these hymns, as seen below.

Four Years Ago: O God, to us show mercy

Monday, January 25, 2016

Edward Henry Bickersteth

Edward Henry Bickersteth, bishop and poet, was born on this date in 1825. His interest in hymnody probably developed early in life; his father, also named Edward, published an influential hymn collection titled Christian Psalmody in 1833.

Ordained in the Church of England in 1848, Edward Henry embarked on a successful clerical career which included missionary work abroad as well as parish appointments. He eventually became the Dean of Gloucester Cathedral in 1885 and, later that year, Bishop of Exeter.

He believed that the multitude of hymnals used in the Church of England was a weakness, and to that end he compiled The Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer (1870), hoping that it would be one of the most widely used books. While the book did go through several editions, and he updated it more than once, it never reached the popularity of Hymns Ancient and Modern or Church Hymns.  And, of course, to this day the Church of England has never selected one "official" hymnal for the denomination.

Bickersteth's own hymns were published in different collections of his poetry, including Water from the Well-Spring (1852) The Two Brothers and Other Poems (1871),  and several eventually ended up in his Hymnal Companion.  From Year to Year (1884) was a collection of hymns appropriate for each Sunday and feast day of the church year, as hymn writers before him such as John Keble (The Christian Year), Henry Alford (The Year of Praise), and Christopher Wordsworth (The Holy Year) had done. Today's hymn, one of at least two that he wrote for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (also observed on his birthday, January 25), first appeared in the 1890 revision of his Hymnal Companion.

All-merciful, Almighty Lord,
We bless the love, its depth and height,
Which made by thy transforming word
Thy foe a burning, shining light.

A chosen messenger of God,
Eternity o’ershadowing time,
Paul's bleeding feet unwearied trod
From shore to shore, from clime to clime;

Content to reckon all things loss,
To live and die for thy dear name;
His only glory, Christ, thy cross;
His heart aglow with heavenly flame.

O Jesus, may we follow him
Most humbly, as he followed thee;
Nor let the Gospel torch grow dim,
But quenchless flash o’er land and sea.

Henceforth no more our own, but thine;
Much loved, much loving, much forgiven;
Apostles of the grace Divine
Which fashions thus the heirs of heaven.

Edward Henry Bickersteth, 1890; alt.
Henry J. Gauntlett, 1861

Seven Years Ago: We sing the glorious conquest

Five Years Ago: The great Apostle, called by grace

One Year Ago: By all your saints still striving

Sunday, January 24, 2016

John Mason Neale (and Year Nine!)

Anglican priest, scholar and hymnologist (also spiritual godfather to this blog) John Mason Neale was born today in London in 1818.  His father, the Reverend Cornelius Neale, was a staunch Evangelical who was ordained in 1822, only a year before his death.

Neale studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was considered to be "the cleverest man of his year" but since he had avoided any study of mathematics he was not allowed to graduate with honours, but only a regular degree.  While at Cambridge he developed an interest in the Oxford Movement, taking him away from his Evangelical roots. While many in the movement were mostly concerned with doctrine and, to a lesser extent, liturgy, Neale was also interested in church architecture, and how church buildings could be restored to the layouts of the early Roman Catholic church.

Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1842, his Oxford tendencies as well as his poor health limited his career opportunities.  He was under the authority of Charles Sumner, Bishop of Winchester (also an Evangelical), who prevented him from taking a curacy in Guildford and eventually installed him as the warden (not even the chaplain) of Sackville College, which was actually an almshouse.  While at Sackville, Neale spent his own money to restore the chapel, which has fallen into disrepair, but in following some of the architectural and design principles he had come to prefer (including open benches and candles on the altar), he again attracted the attention of the bishop, who placed him under inhibition for thirteen years, meaning that he could not function as a priest (and that the Sackville inmates could not receive the sacraments in their own chapel).  Though Neale remained firmly in the Church of England, it was believed by many that he would eventually leave and join the Roman Catholic Church, as many of the Oxford Movement followers (or Tractarians, as they were known) had already done.

He published more than a hundred books in the following years at Sackville, including his sermons, stories for children, and his great History of the Holy Eastern Church, for which he learned Russian in addition to the Greek he already knew.  Eventually he would master nearly twenty languages. 

Neale's tremendous contribution to English language hymnody stemmed from his Tractarian sympathies. In an article published in 1849, he wrote about the great heritage of hymns in the Catholic Church from centuries past which had been taken from the people when the Church adopted the vernacular during the Reformation.

That treasury, into which the saints of every age and country had poured their contributions, delighting, each in his generation, to express their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, in language which would be the heritage of their Holy Mother until the end of time--those noble hymns, (...) whether of the sevenfold daily office, of the weekly commemoration of creation and redemption, of the yearly revolution of the Church's seasons, or of the birthdays to glory of martyrs and confessors--those hymns by which day unto day had uttered speech, and night unto night had taught knowledge--could not, by the hands then employed in ecclesiastical matters, be rendered into another, and that a then comparatively barbarous, tongue. 

Neale took it upon himself to translate or paraphrase many dozens of hymns from Latin, Greek, Syrian, and Russian, publishing them in several different collections, including

The Hymnal Noted (1851)
Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1862)
Hymns of the Eastern Church (1870)

He also wrote original hymn texts, published in Hymns for Children (1843), Hymns for the Sick (1843) and elsewhere, though they are far less known as his translated texts, which appear in most hymnals up to the present day.  Today's short hymn of praise and trust in God is one of his originals.

Great Creator, you have taught us
We should live to you alone;
Year by year, your hand hath brought us
On through dangers oft unknown.
When we wandered, you have found us,
When we doubted, sent us light;
Still your arm has been around us,
All our paths were in your sight.

We would trust in your protecting,
Wholly rest upon your arm,
Follow wholly your directing,
You, our only guard from harm;
Therefore, God, we come believing
You can give the power we need,
Through the prayer of faith receiving
Strength, the Spirit’s strength, indeed.

John Mason Neale, 1844; alt.
Henry T. Smart, 1868

Neale died on August 6, 1866, the Feast of the Transfiguration, so when he was later added to the Anglican calendar of notables, his day was moved to August 7

As I have mentioned several times before, John Mason Neale's translation of a long text by Bernard of Cluny we now sing as Jerusalem the golden, which contained the phrase which names this blog.  Though technically the first post here was on January 23, 2008, today we celebrate our eighth anniversary and embark on our ninth year on the occasion of Neale's birthday.

P.S. The stained glass window honoring Mason is from the church of St. Swithuns East Grinstead, which is located near Sackville College, and in which churchyard Neale is buried.

Seven Years Ago: John Mason Neale

Six Years Ago: John Mason Neale

Five Years Ago: John Mason Neale

Three Years Ago: John Mason Neale

Saturday, January 23, 2016

You Give the Winter's Cold

'Tis winter now; the fallen snow
Has left the heavens all coldly clear;
Through leafless boughs the sharp winds blow,
And all the earth lies dead and drear.

And yet God's love is not withdrawn;
God's life within the keen air breathes;
God's beauty paints the crimson dawn,
And clothes each branch with glittering wreaths.

And though abroad the sharp winds blow,
And skies are chill, and frosts are keen,
Home closer draws its circle now,
And warmer glows its light within.

O God, you give the winter's cold,
As well as summer's joyous rays,
You warmly in your love enfold,
And keep us through life's wintry days.

Samuel Longfellow, 1864; alt.
Kenneth G. Finlay, 1912

Seven Years Ago: Phillips Brooks

Five Years Ago: O star of truth, downshining

Monday, January 18, 2016

William Henry Havergal

William Henry Havergal, born today in 1793, may have been one of the people most responsible for the immense surge in hymn singing in England in the middle of the nineteenth century.  He and Henry J. Gauntlett worked to adapt and arrange older melodies, such as psalm tunes and chorales from Germany into the four-part harmonies that we still sing today (much like Lowell Mason was doing in the United States).  He composed a number of original hymn tunes and also wrote hymn texts.

Havergal was ordained in the Church of England in 1816, serving several churches, the longest in Astley, a village in Worcestershire, where he is buried.  

Today's hymn has both a text by Havergal as well as one of his arrangements, adapted from a sixteenth-century German melody.

To praise our Shepherd's care,
His wisdom, love, and might,
Your loudest, loftiest songs prepare,
And bid the world unite.

Supremely good and great,
He tends his earthly fold;
And stoops, though throned in highest state,
The weary to uphold.

He hears their softest plaint, 
Follows them when they roam;
And if one single lamb should faint,
His bosom bears it home.

Kind Shepherd of the sheep,
A faithful flock are we,
And snares and foes are nigh, but keep
The lambs who look to thee.

William Henry Havergal, 19th cent.; alt.
Tune: NARENZA (S.M.)
Catholicum Hymnologium, 1584;
arr. William Henry Havergal, 1847

One of his daughters, Frances Ridley Havergal, followed in his line of work as a writer of hymns and composer of tunes.  Havergal is now mostly remembered for his tunes rather than his texts, while the texts of Frances are most familiar and her tunes are all but unknown.  Following Havergal's death in 1870, Frances edited a collection of his tunes and arrangements which was published in 1871.

Another Commemoration Today: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Seven Years Ago: William Henry Havergal

Four Years Ago: The Confession of Saint Peter

One Year Ago: The Confession of Saint Peter

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rivers of Unfailing Joy

A portion of Psalm 36 is the appointed Psalm for the day in the Revised Common Lectionary. It's always appropriate to sing a paraphrase of the day's psalm, so we have here another one from The Psalter (1912), a collection we have seen before which was published in cooperation with a number of Presbyterian bodies in the United States.

Thy mercy and thy truth, O God,
Transcend the lofty sky;
Thy judgments are a mighty deep,
And as the mountains high.

Lord, thou preservest all on earth;
Since thou art ever kind;
Beneath the shadow of thy wings
We may a refuge find.

With the abundance of thy house
We shall be satisfied,
From rivers of unfailing joy
Our thirst shall be supplied.

The fountain of eternal life
Is found alone with thee,
And in the brightness of thy light
We clearly light shall see.

From those that know thee may thy love
And mercy ne’er depart,
And may thy justice still protect
And bless the upright heart.

The Psalter, 1912; alt.
Tune: ST. STEPHEN (C.M.)
William Jones, 1789

Six Years Ago: Glory to thee O Christ (available on Facebook at "Conjubilant W. Song")

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Echoes of Mercy, Whispers of Love

Nearly two weeks ago, on December 29, I was in the middle of the Twelve Days of Christmas posts and so didn't get around to posting this, but if you haven't seen it it's definitely worth watching.  On that night, the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony was broadcast (the event itself was on December 6).  Five worthy honorees in different artistic categories were celebrated for their contributions to the arts in the United States.

The day after, most of the buzz was about Aretha Franklin's performance in honor of songwriter Carole King, but for our purposes, CeCe Winans'  rendition of Blessed assurance for Cicely Tyson was the one to savor. Presenter Kerry Washington explains the reason for this particular tribute, in which Winans is joined by students from the Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange, New Jersey.

I think Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp would be quite honored as well to know that their song is still known and loved more than a century later, and has spread its message to more people around the world than they could have imagined.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Lowell Mason

Music educator and composer Lowell Mason (1792-1872) was born today in Medfield, Massachusetts. His parents were choir singers and his father a string player, and young Lowell learned several instruments and studied music both in a singing school and with composer Oliver Shaw. At age 16 he became director of his church choir, and at 18 he conducted the Medfield town band.

However, he did not initially seek out a music career as an adult, first working in a dry goods store in Savannah, Georgia in which he eventually became a partner. At the same time, he served Savannah's Independent Presbyterian Church as organist and Sunday school superintendent. Following the death of his partner in the store in 1817, Mason went into banking as his "real" job while continuing his musical and educational interests on the side.  He founded the Savannah Missionary Society in 1818 and opened the first Sunday school in the country for black children in 1826. 

While continuing as a banker, his musical sideline during the 1820s was arranging hymn tunes from the melodies of European composers, and writing some of his own in similar style, which were tried out on his Savannah congregation. After a few unsuccessful tries at publishing a collection of these tunes, his book came out as The Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music in 1822, in cooperation with that venerable Boston organization. The book was an immediate success, selling more than fifty thousand copies over at least twenty separate editions. Mason returned to Boston, where he was music director at several different churches and eventually led the Handel and Haydn Society.  Over the rest of his lifetime he published at least fifty hymn tune collections. And yet he still kept a job in banking for a few more years.

Mason's arrangements took melodies from European composers and transformed them into four-part hymn tunes. HAMBURG, for example, was from a Benedictus of Vincent Novello, and AZMON from German composer Carl Glaser.  Today's tune, HENDON, which also still appears in hymnals today, is from Swiss Protestant minister and hymn tune composer Henri Abraham César Malan.

Ask me what great thing I know,
That delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
What is faith’s foundation strong?
What awakes my heart to song?
He who bore my earthly load,
Purchased for me peace with God,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
Who defeats my fiercest foes?
Who consoles my saddest woes?
Who revives my fainting heart,
Healing all its hidden smart?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
Who is life in life to me?
Who the death of death will be?
Who will place me on his right,
With the countless hosts of light?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
This is that great thing I know;
This delights and stirs me so;
Faith in him who died to save,
Him who triumphed over the grave:
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Johann Schwedler, 1741; tr. Benjamin H. Kennedy, 1863
Tune: HENDON (
H. A. César Malan, 1827; harm. Lowell Mason, 1841

Eventually Mason seems to have been convinced that he could have a full career in music, and left banking to become the first teacher of music in an American public school in 1837, a program that he had developed and for which he won acceptance.  Not long after he became the first superintendent of the music program in all Boston schools.  The program was a success and was copied across the country and even in Europe.

After Mason's success in the musical and educational fields, he came to disparage the singing school movement that had previously been the primary form of musical education in the country (and where he had studied as a child).  The style of the earlier American composers died out, replaced in fashion by European models of composition that were now considered more respectable.

In 2010, a group of Medfield, MA citizens came together to halt the demolition of the Mason family house. They were successful in moving the building to another site and have continued efforts to establish the house as 'a significant historical and educational resource' and to honor the life and career of Lowell Mason.

Seven Years Ago: Lowell Mason

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Feast of the Epiphany

Twelve days after Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, marked by the visitation of the Magi to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12), and beginning a season in the church year that commemorates the revelation of Jesus as the child of God to the people of the world.  The painting above, Adoration of the Magi by Jacopo Pontormo (c.1520), shows those strangers paying homage to the child, but behind them there streams a long procession of pilgrims waiting to do the same thing, illustrating the broader meaning of the season..

Hail, O source of every blessing,
Sovereign God of humankind!
Nations now, your truth possessing,
To your courts admission find.

Once revealed to Eastern sages,
See the star of mercy shine;
Mystery hid in former ages,
Mystery great of love divine.

Gratefully we come before you,
In your church obtain a place,
Now by faith behold your glory,
Praise your Name, and taste your grace.

Once far off, but now invited,
We approach your sacred throne;
In your covenant united,
Reconciled, redeemed, made one.

May we, body, soul, and spirit,
Live devoted to your praise,
Glorious realms of bliss inherit,
Grateful anthems ever raise!

Basil Woodd, 1810; alt.
Emily Swan Perkins, 1921

The Reverend Basil Woodd (1760-1831) prepared a collection of psalm and scriptural paraphrases with a very long title: New Metrical Version of the Psalms of David; With an Appendix of Select Psalms and Hymns; Adapted to the Service of the United Church of England and Ireland: For Every Sunday in the Year, Festival Days, Saints' Days, &c. (1794).

Composer Emily Swan Perkins (1866-1941) was a founding member of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and also for many years its corresponding secretary.

Seven Years Ago: Saw you never, in the twilight

Six Years Ago: Earth has many a noble city

Five Years Ago: What star is this, with beams so bright

Four Years Ago: As with gladness those of old

Three Years Ago: O thou, who by a star didst guide

Two Years Ago: Lo! the pilgrim Magi

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

And Where Shall the Savior Rest? (Day Twelve)

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas we have a more contemplative text. We start at the
humble manger, perhaps the place in the story that we can understand best -- no stars
or shepherds or angels -- no miracles, but reality.

Not surprisingly, this text was written during the First World War, and was published
in Carols Old and Carols New (1916), a collection by Charles Lewis Hutchins. Benjamin
Boulter, a London schoolmaster, wrote the text, matched to a tune by his wife, Bertha
Boulter, a violinist and composer. I can't help wondering if the Boulters were personally
affected by the war in any way after reading this text. The photograph above is a bombed-
out church in the French village of Villers–Bretonneux, taken in May, 1918, only one of many houses of worship destroyed by war over the centuries.

Where shall the Prince of Peace be born,
And where shall the Savior rest?
In a stable bare, in a crib forlorn:
For the busy inn will cruelly scorn
Its great and glorious guest.
Where shall the Prince of Peace be born,
And where shall the Savior rest?
To a ruined church, on a Christmas morn,
To a world by hatred and warfare torn,
He comes, the Savior blest.
Where shall the Prince of Peace be born,
And where shall the Savior rest?
In the hearts of those that are crowned with thorn,
In the hearts of the sad bereft that mourn,
In the hearts of the poor oppressed.
Lowly and humble this heart of mine,
Yet there shall the Savior rest;
For the altar lights on the cradle shine,
And the glory of God fills the ruined shrine,
Quia Jesus natus est.

Benjamin C. Boulter, 1916; alt.
Tune: CRIB AND CROSS (Irregular)
Bertha F.L. Boulter, 1916

We've come to the end of another Twelve Days of Christmas here at the blog, and I've
been reminded again what a great volume of material has been written for the season
over the last few centuries.  The surface has barely been scratched!  There are still many
hymns and songs and carols we have not explored: the well-known, the somewhat-known,
and the completely unknown (and, I suppose a fourth category of the rightfully unknown).
Maybe I'll do it again next year.

P.S. - If you came to this post through a Facebook link you can see the whole selection
of hymns for the Twelve Days of Christmas by clicking the blog logo at the top of the page.

Six Years Ago: Sound over all waters

Five Years Ago: Do you know the song that the angels sang?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Love Shall Be Our Token (Day Eleven)

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God, love to all,
Love, the universal sign.

Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1885; alt.
Tune: GARTAN (
Traditional Irish melody

For the Eleventh Day of Christmas we have another song of the Incarnation by the English poet
Christina Rossetti, which was published in her collection Time Flies, A Reading Diary (1885).
It was first used as a hymn in the Oxford Hymn Book (1908) but was probably spread most
widely by its later inclusion in the popular Songs of Praise (1925), edited by Percy Dearmer.
The last line here is actually Rossetti's original version, which she later altered, but which I
decided to restore.

The Irish melody GARTAN is often sung with this text, though there have been other tunes
and also several different anthem settings for choirs, by composers such as Harold Darke, John
Rutter, and Leo Sowerby. Research posted at the Musica Sacra forum of the Church Music
Association of America suggests that GARTAN had earlier been matched to the Latin com-
munion hymn Sancti venite in the eighteenth century.

Six Years Ago: In the lonely midnight

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Still Shining For Me (Day Ten)

I think of that star of long ago
That lighted the wanderers’ path below;
In faith I look up, and o’er me I see
That star in its beauty still shining for me.

O star that once shone over Bethlehem!
Thy beams yet to mortals great joy proclaim.
Jesus to adore, I hasten with thee,
O star in thy beauty still shining for me.

It sheds on the world its peaceful rays,
And greets every mortal with heav’nly grace.
To Bethlehem’s Babe I hasten with thee,
O star, in thy beauty, still shining for me.

No clouds can obscure that kindly star,
Nor brightness of noonday its glories mar;
When shadows of death surround me, I’ll see
That star in its beauty still shining for me.

Text and Tune: Andrew L. Skoog, 1921
Tune: BETHLEHEM'S STAR (Irregular with refrain)

Andrew Skoog was born in Sweden in 1856 and his family emigrated to the United States when he was a child.  He grew up in Chicago and later lived in Minneapolis, where he was a church organist, music director and Sunday School teacher, and he also published a Swedish language newspaper, Veckobladet (The Weekly Blade). He was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 1891.

He was involved in the compilation of seven different hymn collections, some in Swedish. His own hymns and choir anthems number over three hundred, many written in both Swedish and English versions.  This particular text is titled Bethlehems Stjärna in Swedish.

Six Years Ago: We three kings

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Earth Listened Far and Wide (Day Nine)

We celebrate the day
Of triumph and of rest,
When, shown of God and shaped in clay,
The Word was manifest.

The angels saw and sung,
Earth listened far and wide,
Believed and preached -- a faith, a tongue,
The Word was glorified.

God, give it gracious sweep,
And here its errand bless,
Whose mercy sent it o'er the deep
To glad a wilderness.

Shoot forth its starry light
To guide our pilgrim way,
A sign of hope through this world's night,
And brighter than its day.

Again thy witness-voice!
Again thy Spirit-dove!
That hearts may in its trust rejoice,
And soften with its love.

Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham, 1835; alt.
Arthur Somervell, 1906

Christmas is also known in some circles as the Feast of the Incarnation.  The well-known opening verses of the Gospel of John announce the coming of the Word made flesh, and this hymn is derived from that idea.

Unitarian minister and poet Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham wrote this text in 1835 for the ordination of William Parsons Lunt at the United First Parish Church in Quincy. MA.  Lunt has another musical Christmas connection, as it was at his request that Edmund Hamilton Sears wrote It came upon the midnight clear for Lunt's Sunday School in 1849.

Seven Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Six Years Ago: Lo! how a Rose e'er blooming

Five Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Three Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hail the New, Ye Lads and Lasses (Day Eight)

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
'Tis the season to be jolly, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

See the blazing yule before us, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Strike the harp and join the chorus, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
While I tell of Christmas treasure, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Fast away the old year passes, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Sing we joyous all together,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la 
Heedless of the wind and weather, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Text: John Jones, 1862.; tr. Thomas Oliphant, 1881
Tune: NOS GALAN (L.M. with fa la las)
Traditional Welsh tune, 16th cent.

A Welsh New Years' carol (Nos Galen = New Year's Eve), published in 1794 seems to be at least part of the origin of this familiar carol, though the tune itself is older. The tune appears to have become quite popular in the mid-nineteenth century in England and a number of different translations and altered texts sprang up, but this is the one that has come down to us today, moved back a week to celebrate Christmas.

Such a popular carol has inspired a number of parody versions over the years.  While I don't generally use hymn parodies here, this particular song is only nominally useful in worship (though it has appeared in a few hymn collections), so perhaps just one parody would not be terribly out of place.

Seven Years Ago: Bessie Porter Head

Six Years Ago: O God, by whom all change is wrought

Six Years Ago: (12 Days of Christmas) Mists and clouds and shadows

Five Years Ago: Another year is dawning

Four Years Ago: O God, whom neither time nor space

Three Years Ago: New mercies, new blessings, new light on our way