Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bernard Barton

Today is the birthday of Bernard Barton, known as England's 'Quaker Poet' in the early nineteenth century. He was the author of several volumes of hymns and poems mostly written during his long employment as a bank clerk.  

He was educated at a Society of Friends boarding school in Ipswich, but left school at fourteen to serve an apprenticeship in a shop.  He eventually married the shop owner's niece Lucy in 1807, but a year later she died giving birth to their first child, also named Lucy.  In 1809 Barton took a post in the Dykes and Samuel Alexander’s Bank, where he remained for the next forty years.  The Guide to the Pilgrim Hymnal (1966) quotes one source as saying "So punctual and methodical was he that, as he returned from the office each midday, the housewives knew it was the correct time to put their potatoes into the water as he passed their doors..."

His first book of poetry, Metrical Effusions, was published in 1812, and eventually he became friends and correspondents with several of the well-known poets of his day.

Fear not, Zion's sons and daughters,
Perfect love shall cast out fear;
When you pass through deepest waters,
I, your God, will still be near.

In the furnace of affliction,
I will save you from despair;
Love divine shall bring conviction
That my peace is 'round you there.

Never shall you be forsaken,
Nothing shall have pow'r to harm;
While your faith remains unshaken,
In my mighty outstretched arm.

Heights nor depths shall from me sever
Those whom Christ has brought to me;
I will keep you safe forever
And your God and Savior be.

Bernard Barton, 1826; alt.
Walter G. Whinfield, 1902

Two Years Ago: Bernard Barton

Thursday, January 24, 2013

John Mason Neale

John Mason Neale (January 24, 1818 - August 6, 1866), often mentioned here, is remembered for his hymns both translated and original.

In translating texts from Latin, Greek, and other languages he was restoring those older hymns to the Church of England, whose hymnody up until then had grown largely out of the tradition of the psalm paraphrases of the seventeenth century and the subsequent work of Isaac Watts, John Newton, and others who wrote new texts for English-speaking congregations. 

His Latin translations in particular were looked on with suspicion by many Anglicans, who could not get beyond the Roman Catholic origins of the texts at a time when the Oxford Movement was luring many Anglicans into Catholicism.  Neale, however, remained faithful to the Church of England, which led the Roman Catholics to disparage his translations because he often changed or deleted lines that did not conform to Anglican doctrine.

Today's hymn is derived from the Latin office hymn Caeli Deus sanctissime. Its precise authorship is apparently unknown; it has been ascibed to Pope Gregory the Great and Ambrose of Milan, among others.

O God, whose hand hath spread the sky,
And all its shining hosts on high,
And painting it with fiery light,
Made it so beauteous and so bright:

Thou, when creation was begun,
Didst frame the circle of the sun,
And set the moon for ordered change,
And planets for their wider range:

To night and day, by certain line,
Their varying bounds thou didst assign;
And gav'st a signal, known and meet,
For months begun and months complete.

Enlighten thou our hearts, O God,
To walk the paths that Jesus trod;
To find the way that leads to thee,
Our Life and Light eternally.

Grant this, Creator, ever One,
With Christ, thy sole-begotten Son,
Whom, with the Spirit we adore,
One God, both now and evermore.

Latin, 8th cent.
John Mason Neale, 19th cent.
Henry J, Gauntlett, 1861

One slightly amusing fact about Neale: there appears to have been only one photograph of him, but if you search online you can find several other images which have all been flipped, cropped, or Photoshopped from that one photo in some way to look different -- the face is the same in all of them.

I now celebrate the birthday of the blog (which is technically one day earlier) on Neale's birthday each year, the man who first wrote the phrase conjubilant with songFive years and counting...

Three Years Ago: John Mason Neale

Two Years Ago: John Mason Neale

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Light of Light Unfold

Psalm 148 is one of the appointed psalms for worship today in some lectionary cycles.  Today's hymn is a loose paraphrase by the English Congregationalist George Rawson, which makes a good showing of including the whole universe in the act of praising God.
Sing praise to God, immortal choir,
In heavenly heights above,
With harp and voice and souls of fire,
That burn with perfect love.
Shine to God’s glory, worlds of light!
Ye million suns of space,
Fair moons and glittering stars of night,
That run your mystic race!

Ye gorgeous clouds, that deck the sky
With crystal, crimson, gold,
And rainbow arches raised on high,
The Light of light unfold!
Do homage, roiling ocean floor,
With many-surging sign;
Majestic calms, be hushed before
The Holiness Divine.

Storm, lightning, thunder, hail and snow,
Wild winds that keep God’s word,
With steadfast mountains far below,
Unite to bless the Lord.
God’s name, ye forests, wave along;
And whisper, every flower;
Birds, beasts, and insects, swell the song
That tells such love and power.

Around the wide world let it roll,
Whilst we shall lead it on;
Join every joyful human soul,
In glorious unison.
Thou all creating Deity,
The God of earth and heav’n!
The great redeeming Majesty,
To whom all praise be giv’n!

George Rawson, 1853; alt.
Tune: PLUMER (C.M.D.)
Joseph Maclean, 1899

More familiar tunes that would also work well include FOREST GREEN and ELLACOMBE, though both are somewhat overused. 

It appears that George Rawson liked to include the rainbow in his hymns; both of his texts that have already appeared on the blog (here and here) also use it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

John Knowles Paine

Composer John Knowles Paine (January 9, 1839 - April 25, 1906) was the most prominent American composer of his day, and was also the first professor of music at any American university (Harvard). 

While many of his compositions were for orchestra, organ, or chamber ensembles, he also wrote choral music.  His large-scale Mass in D minor (1866) was first performed in Berlin, and later in the United States.  The first recording was finally released in 1978, and a new critical edition of the score is reportedly in preparation.  At least two performances of the Mass took place in 2012, and I was lucky enough to attend one of them.  This YouTube video, of the final movement (Dona nobis pacem), is from the other one, at West Chester Universioty in Pennsylvania.

Paine also wrote a handful of hymn tunes.  He served as one of the musical editors for Hymns and Songs of Praise for Public and Social Worship (1874) where most (if not all) of them appeared.  Unfortunately no one has documented these tunes on any of the usual hymn websites, so no sound files are yet available.

Three Years Ago: John Knowles Paine

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Feast of the Epiphany

This year, January 6 falls on a Sunday, so the Feast of the Epiphany can be celebrated on its own day, instead of being transferred, as many churches usually do.  Today's hymn is by our old friend John Mason Neale, first published in his Hymns for Children (1842).

O thou who by a star didst guide
The sages on their way,
Until it came and stood beside
The place where Jesus lay.

Although by stars thou dost not lead
Thy people now below,
The Holy Spirit, when we need,
Will show us how to go.

As yet we know thee but in part;
But still we trust thy Word,
That blessèd are the pure in heart,
For they shall find the Lord.

Creator give us then thy grace
To make us pure in heart,
That we may see thee face to face
Hereafter, as thou art.

John Mason Neale, 1842; alt.
Thomas Clark, c. 1807

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Elizabeth Rundle Charles

English author Elizabeth Rundle Charles was born today in 1828, in the Devonshire village of Tavistock.  Though she wrote several popular books and collections of poetry in her day, her hymns are probably her longest surviving work, and a graph at indicates that her hymns are appearing in a growing number of hymnals today.

In addition to original texts, she also translated older texts from traditions outside her own Anglican background.  Today's seasonal hymn dates from the fifteenth century, Heu! quid jaces stabulo, written by Abbé Jean Mauburn as part of a longer work, Rosetum Ex­er­ci­ti­or­um Spir­it­u­al­i­um et Sa­cra­rum Me­di­ta­ti­on­um (1494).  The hymn is a dialogue between the worshipper and Jesus, discussing the paradox of the future Ruler coming to earth as a helpless child.

It's still the ninth day of Christmas...

Dost thou in a manger lie,
Who hast all created,
Stretching infant hands on high,
Savior, long awaited?
If a monarch, where thy state?
Where thy court on thee to wait?
Royal purple, where?
Here no regal pomp we see;
Naught but need and penury:
Why thus cradled here?

"For the world a love supreme
Brought me to this stable;
All creation to redeem,
I alone am able.
By this lowly birth of mine,
Pilgrim, riches shall be thine,
Matchless gifts and free;
Willingly this yoke I take,
And this sacrifice I make,
Heaping joys for thee."

Fervent praise would I to thee
Evermore be raising;
For thy wondrous love to me
Thee be ever praising.
Glory, glory be for ever
Unto that most bounteous Giver,
And that loving Lord!
Better witness to thy worth,
Purer praise than ours on earth,
Angels' songs afford.

Jean Mauburn, 1494
tr. Elizabeth Rundle Charles, 1868; alt.
Tune: MAUBURN (P.M.)
T. Tertius Noble, 1918

English composer and organist T. Tertius Noble emigrated to the United States in 1913. and was soon involved with the committee that selected the music for the Episcopal Hymnal of 1916, where this tune, written for this text, was first published. The hymn remains in the current Episcopal hymnal, but with a different tune.

Four Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Three Years Ago: The Ninth Day of Christmas

Two Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Songs In the Night

New mercies, new blessings, new light on our way;
New courage, new hope, and new strength for each day;
New notes of thanksgiving, new chords of delight;
New praise in the morning, new songs in the night;

New wine in our chalice, new altars to raise;
New fruits for the harvest, new garments of praise;
New gifts from his treasures, new smiles from his face;
New streams from the fountain of infinite grace;

New stars for our crowns and new tokens of love;
New gleams of the glory that waits us above;
New light of his countenance full and unpriced --
All this be the joy of our new life in Christ.

Frances Ridley Havergal, 1879; alt.
A Compilation of Genuine Church Music, 1832

This text was originally titled "A Happy New Year to You." For many years, its author, Frances Ridley Havergal  (whose birthday I missed earlier this month) sent out a New Years' poem such as this to her correspondents. We have seen two others on the blog in previous years:

The composer of the familiar tune FOUNDATION has never been identified since its first appearance in A Compilation of Genuine Church Music (1832), edited by Joseph Funk (where the tune was named PROTECTION) and published in Virginia.

Onward to another year at CWS, and our upcoming fifth anniversary.

Four Years Ago: Bessie Porter Head

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

One Year Ago: O God, whom neither time nor space