Friday, January 1, 2010

Triumphant the New Song We Sing

While we are still marking the twelve days of Christmas here at CWS (see the entry below for today's hymn), much of the world has moved on. The coming of the New Year offers an opportunity to look ahead and leave the past behind, which today's hymn celebrates with its theme of renewal.

O God, by whom all change is wrought,
By whom new things to birth are brought,
In whom no change is known;
Whate'er thou dost, whate'er thou art,
Thy people still in thee have part,
Still, still thou art our own.

Spirit who makest all things new,
Thou leadest onward; we pursue
The heav'nly march sublime;
'Neath thy renewing fire we glow,
And still from strength to strength we go,
From height to height we climb.

Sorrow and dread we leave behind;
New light, new glory still we find
New realms divine possess,
New births of grace new raptures bring;
Triumphant the new song we sing,
The great Renewer bless.

Thomas Hornblower Gill, 1869; alt.
Heinrich Isaac, c. 1500

Thomas Hornblower Gill was Unitarian by birth, but became a Nonconformist later in life. This hymn was apparently first printed in an American hymnbook, Songs of the Spirit (1871) and later in the British Baptist Hymnal (1879) and several others, including the American Unitarian Hymns of the Spirit (1937). The old tune by Heinrich Isaac, an influential Flemish composer of his time, was also used by J.S. Bach in his cantatas.

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