Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let Your Alleluias Rise

For our celebration of Easter we come to a lesser-known hymn, though it was probably sung in various places today.  We have spoken before about the Gospel lesson for today which tells the story of Mary Magdalene and the other female followers of Jesus who were the first witnesses to the Resurrection.  This Latin text is from the twelfth century, perhaps by the French monk Peter the Venerable:

Gaude, plaude, Magdalena,
Tumba Christus exiit.
Tristis est peracta scena,
Victor mortis rediit.
Quem deflabas morientum
Nunc arride resurgentem
Alleluia resonet.

This was translated by Elizabeth Rundle Charles in her collection The Voice of Christian Life in Song (1864).  However, it does not seem to have come into use as a hymn until well into the twentieth century.  Today's version is a slightly different adaptation of Charles's translation (originally in five stanzas) than the one that appears in modern hymnals.

Lift your voice rejoicing, Mary,
Christ has risen from the tomb;
Sad the scene he passed though lately,
Now as victor he is come.
Whom your tears in death were mourning,
Welcome with your smiles returning.
Let your alleluias rise!

Clothe yourself in gladness, Mary,
Let your face shine calm and clear.
All your pain and grief have vanished,
And the glorious Light is here!
Christ has burst the tomb's cold prison,
Over death triumphant risen.
Let your alleluias rise!

Life is yours for ever, Mary,
For your light is come once more
And the strength of death is broken;
Now your songs of joy outpour.
Ended now the night of sorrow,
Love has brought the blessed morrow.
Let your alleluias rise. 

Latin,12th cent.;
tr. Elizabeth Rundle Charles, 1864; alt.
Tune: FIDES (
Clement C. Scholefield, 1874

The few hymnals that now include this hymn have set it to modern (copyrighted) tunes of varying quality and/or singability, which may have kept it from spreading farther.  Unfortunately, the meter of the text (preserved from the original Latin) does not have a commonly-used tune to match.  This older tune by Clement Cotterill Scholefield (who wrote - or did he? - the well-loved ST. CLEMENT) is perhaps not exactly right either, but it will give you a sense of the text as a hymn. 

One Year Ago: Jesus Christ is ris'n today


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For the grace of redemption was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
To bear it up to Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Christ will call me some day to my home far away,
Where his glory forever I’ll share.

George Bennard, 1912; alt.
Tune: THE OLD RUGGED CROSS (Irregular with refrain)

Four Years Ago: There is a green hill far away

Three Years Ago: Ah, holy Jesus

Two Years Ago: When I survey the wondrous cross

One Year Ago: Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hope From Desolation

We are still in the Lenten season, but the end is in sight, with Holy Week approaching soon.

Jesus, all my gladness,
My repose in sadness,
Jesus, heaven to me;
Ah, my heart long plaineth,
Ah, my spirit straineth,
Longeth after thee!
Thine I am, O holy Lamb;
Only where thou art is pleasure,
Thee alone I treasure.

Hence with earthly treasure:
Thou art all my pleasure,
Jesus my desire!
Hence, for pomps I care not,
E'en as though they were not
Rank and fortune's hire.
Want and gloom, cross, death, and tomb;
Naught that I may suffer ever
Shall from Jesus sever.

Flee, dark clouds that lower,
For my joy-bestower,
Jesus, enters in!
Joy from tribulation,
Hope from desolation,
They who love God win.
Be it blame or scorn or shame,
Thou art with me in earth's sadness,
Jesus, all my gladness. 

Johann Franck, 1650;
tr. Arthur W. Wotherspoon, 1912; alt.
Johann Cruger, 1653; harm. J. S. Bach (18th cent.)

P.S. - The art above is a portion of the painting The Presence (1910) by A. E. Borthwick, which hangs at St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh and depicts Christ coming to a petitioner in the nave of the cathedral.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Phoebe Palmer Knapp

Today is the birthday of the prolific song composer Phoebe Palmer Knapp, (which we have often marked here) born into a Methodist family in New York City in 1839.  Her parents help popular prayer meetings in their home, amd her mother, also named Phoebe, was a well-known evangelist and writer.

Her long friendship with Fanny Crosby led to many collaborations between the two, with Knapp writing tunes for the Fanny's texts.  Knapp, a wealthy woman through her husband Joseph Fairchild Knapp of the Metropolitan Life insurance firm, often provided financial assistance to Crosby, who earned a confortable income from the publication of her hundreds of gospel songs but gave most of it away to charitable causes.  Fanny and Phoebe's most well-loved song is undoubtedly Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

Knapp's spproximately 500 tunes accompanied the texts of several other writers (including her mother's).  Today's song appeared in her first collention, Notes of Joy (1869), the text by Mary D. James.  It was apparently popular at camp meetings in those days, with its refrain about waiting for the descent of the Holy Spirit,.

My body, soul and spirit,
O Christ, I give to thee,
A consecrated offering,
Thine evermore to be.

My all is on the altar,
I’m waiting for the fire;
Waiting, waiting, waiting,
I’m waiting for the fire.

O Jesus, mighty Savior,
I trust in thy great name;
I look for thy salvation,
Thy promise now I claim.

O let the fire, descending
Just now upon my soul,
Consume my humble offering,
Refine and make me whole!

Mary D. James, 1869
Tune: ALL ON THE ALTAR ( with refrain)
Phoebe Knapp, 1869

Mary Dagworthy James was another Methodist woman who had worked with Knapp's mother Phoebe Worrall Palmer in the Holiness Movement and wrote for some of the publications Palmer edited.

P.S. The photograph above is from the July 21, 1900 Saturday Evening Post, in which Phoebe Knapp was named one of their Women of the Hour.

One Year Ago: Phoebe Palmer Knapp

Three Years Ago: Phoebe Palmer Knapp

Four Years Ago: Phoebe Palmer Knapp

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Healers, Prophets All

Today's hymn continues on the theme on "non-Lent" Lenten hymns.  There is a contemporary movement afoot in some places to emphasize the life of Jesus as an example to us during this season, rather than a focus on fasting and penitence and the unworthiness of sinners.  However, most well'known Lenten hymns are in that second column.

This text is an adaptation, even perhaps might be called a renovation of this older text often used during Lent and Holy Week.  I with an editorial collaborator took it apart and reassembled it in a different way, but it still feels like a Lenten hymn in some ways, and the tune remains familiar to many, though much of the original text is no longer present.

Glory be to Jesus,
Who, in Galilee,
Spoke of love and justice,
Truth to make us free.

Grace and hope eternal
In Christ's life we find;
Blest be his compassion,
Infinitely kind.

Blest through endless ages,
Is that voice, so clear,
Challenging oppression,
Prejudice and fear.

Let us pledge together,
Answering Christ's call;
Let us be like Jesus,
Healers, prophets all.

Let us lift our voice,
Joined with saints above,
Louder still and louder
Praising Jesus' love.

Italian, 1815;
tr. Edward Caswall, 1857
adapt. J.M. & C.W.S., 1990
Friedrich Filitz, 1847