Monday, June 30, 2008

Edward J. Hopkins

Edward John Hopkins (June 30, 1818 - February 4, 1901) was an acclaimed organist and composer of his time. As a boy, he was a chorister at the Chapel Royal, then, beginning at age 16, held a number of organist positions until he took the post at the Temple Church in London, a church dating back to medieval times with an acclaimed music program then and now. He remained in that post for more than fifty years, while composing anthems, chants and hymn tunes. Two of his anthems won the annual Gresham Prize, awarded by the Professors of Music of Oxford University and Gresham College for best original composition in sacred vocal music.

Like most of his Victorian church musician contemporaries, his music is little known today. This is his one remaining hymn tune that would still be recognized by many people.

Savior, again to thy dear Name we raise
With one accord our parting hymn of praise;
We thank and bless thee ere our worship cease;
And still our hearts to wait thy word of peace.

Grant us thy peace, throughout the coming night;
Stay with us till the morning brings its light;
From harm and danger keep thy people free,
For dark and light are both alike to thee.

Grant us thy peace — the peace thou didst bestow
On thine apostles in thine hour of woe;
The peace thou broughtest, when at eventide
They saw thy pierc├Ęd hands, thy wounded side.

Grant us thy peace throughout our earthly life;
Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife;
Peace to our land, the fruit of truth and love;
Peace in each heart, thy Spirit from above.

Thy peace in life, the balm of every pain;
Thy peace in death, the hope to rise again;
Then, when thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,
Call us, O Christ, to thine eternal peace.

John Ellerton, 1866; alt.
Tune: ELLERS (
Edward J. Hopkins, 1869

I found no reference to any collection of Hopkins's complete hymn tunes, as were published for some of his colleagues. Hopkins did edit at least four hymnals for different denominations, where many of his tunes undoubtedly appeared. lists only 15 tunes, though I have found more than forty in various older hymnals, so there probably are several more than that. Previously on the blog I used his tune CULFORD, and there must be a few others that could still be sung today without amusement or feigned horror.

Two books on which Hopkins collaborated are still in print today: The Organ: Its History and Construction and The Temple Church Choral Service Book.

P.S. We will see John Ellerton (the author of today's hymn text) again, no doubt. He wrote many hymns, several of which we know today, such as this one. I restored the third verse here, which I had never seen before.

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