Sunday, April 21, 2013

By Quiet Streams You Lead Me

 As you can see below, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known in many churches as Good Shepherd Sunday, has been observed here several times.  And, as promised some years back, we have not yet run out of paraphrases of Psalm 23 to sing.

This one comes from The Psalter (1912) a hymnal that was compiled by and shared among many of the different Presbyterian denomination in the United States at that time.

My Shepherd, you will hold me
Within your tender care,
And with your flock you fold me,
No want shall find me there.
In pastures green you feed me,
With plenty I am blest;
By quiet streams you lead me,
And make me safely rest.

Whatever may befall me,
You will restore and bless;
For your name’s sake you guide me,
In paths of righteousness.
Your rod and staff will cheer me
In death’s enfolding shade,
For you will then be near me;
I shall not be afraid.

My food you will supply me,
In presence of my foes;
With oil you will anoint me,
My cup of bliss o’erflows.
Your goodness, God, shall guide me,
Your mercy cheer my way;
A home you will provide me
Within your house alway.

The Psalter, 1912; alt.
Welsh melody

Four Years Ago: Since God is my Shepherd

Three Years Ago: Thou art my Shepherd

One Year Ago:  Beside the still waters

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Everlasting Easter Day

The Easter season continues in many churches, though not all will extend it all the way to  Ascension Day, forty days after Easter Sunday.  This little-known text first appeared in Carols Old and Carols New (1916), a collectuon edited by the Reverend Charles Hutchins.  That book was primarily Advent and Christmas hymns and songs but there were many for other seasons of the year as well.

Alleluia! Sing the triumph
Of the Victor in the strife,
Who, thro’ death, himself has brought us
To the resurrection life.
Lo! the bars of death are riven,
Now forever open stand;
Nevermore shall close the portals
Of the Resurrection Land!

Alleluia! Night's long bondage
Breaks in everlasting dawn,
Fled forever in the radiance
Of the resurrection morn.
Now is past the night of weeping,
With the morning comes our joy;
By his glorious resurrection
Death’s cruel pow'r did Christ destroy.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He has triumphed gloriously:
Now, through Christ may we, triumphant,
Joyful gain the victory.
Alleluia! Savior, keep us
By your heav’nly grace, we pray,
That we keep with those in heaven
Everlasting Easter Day.

Alleluia! Christ, we hail you!
Join the chorus of the skies,
And with angels and archangels
May our hymn of praise arise.
Alleluia! praise and glory,
Laud, thanksgiving, honor, might,
Worship, blessing, adoration,
To the Victor Infinite.

E. Mabel Dawson, 1916; alt.
Dutch melody, 18th cent.;
arr. Julius Rontgen, 1906

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Calvin W. Laufer

Today we celebrate the birthday of Presbyterian minister and hymnologist Calvin Weiss Laufer (April 6, 1874 -September 21, 1938).  I have been reading his book Hymn Lore (1932) which tells the stories of fifty different hymns which he considered significant at that time.  

The introduction of the book, by the Reverend Park Hays Miller, tells a bit more about Laufer's biography than I had encountered previously.

The author of this book has been peculiarly fitted for his take.  At the age of nine he learned to play the reed organ in his home.By the time he was eleven he was organist in his Sunday School.  At twelve he took lessons on the piano, and later on the pipe organ.  During his student days he paid his way by teaching music.  He presided at the organ in the college chapel and was also a church organist.  Later, as a pastor he  gave special attention to the development of music and worship in his church.

Miller goes on to cover the facts of Laufer's career which we have already covered here, including his writing of hymns and composition of hymn tunes, and of course his editorial work for the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education.

Today's tune by Laufer was published in 1918.  It is perhaps a bit too much of its time to be used again in a modern setting, but it's not wholly without merit either.

Eternal One, thou living God,
Whom changing years unchanged reveal,
With thee their way our forebears trod;
The hand they held, in ours we feel.

The same our trust, the same our need,
In sorrow’s stress, in duty’s hour;
We keep their faith, by thee decreed,
That faith the fount of all our power.

We bless thee for the growing light;
Th’advancing thought, the wid’ning view,
The larger freedom, clearer sight,
Which from the old unfolds the new.

With wider view, come loftier goal;
With fuller light, more good to see;
With freedom, truer self control,
With knowledge, deeper reverence be.

Anew we pledge ourselves to thee,
To follow where thy truth shall lead;
Afloat upon its boundless sea,
Who sails with God is safe indeed!

Samuel Longfellow, 1876; alt.
Calvin W. Laufer, 1918

Unfortunately, Laufer's work overall has not survived well.  The new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, which will be published later this year, apparently only contains one of his tunes (HALL) and none of his texts.  It was disappointing to hear, a few years back, that the committee producing the new hymnal  had only looked back as far as The Hymnbook, published in the 1950s, for their material.

Three Years Ago: Calvin W. Laufer

Five Years Ago: Calvin W. Laufer