Immortal love for ever full

A hymn to sing along with…

American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) wrote a poem published in 1856 entitled Our Master. Some decades later a few stanzas were extracted from the poem and published as this hymn. He also wrote Dear Lord and Father of mankind.

The full poem is shown at the bottom of this post. (It’s probably just as well we don’t sing all 38 verses!) The last two stanzas of the poem remind us that Whittier was a Quaker, whose form of worship followed the advice given in Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God”.

So probably he wouldn’t have sung any of the verses!

The tune Bishopsthorpe was published in about 1786, and has been ascribed to Jeremiah Clarke. The exact dates of his birth and death are uncertain, but are approximately 1674-1707*. He is most famous for writing the Trumpet Voluntary often played at weddings. He was an organist at Winchester College, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Chapel Royal.

*It seems that Jeremiah fell madly in love with a woman of much higher social status and, as she was completely out of his league, he committed suicide.

Bishopsthorpe

Immortal love, forever full,
forever flowing free,
forever shared, forever whole,
a never ebbing sea!

Our outward lips confess the name
all other names above;
love only knoweth whence it came,
and comprehendeth love.

We may not climb the heavenly steeps
to bring the Lord Christ down;
in vain we search the lowest deeps,
for Him no depths can drown;

but warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
a present help is He;
and faith still has its Olivet,
and love its Galilee.

The healing of His seamless dress
is by our beds of pain;
we touch Him in life’s throng and press,
and we are whole again.

Through Him the first fond prayers are said
our lips of childhood frame;
the last low whispers of our dead
are burdened with His Name.

Alone, O Love ineffable,
Thy saving name is given;
to turn aside from Thee is hell,
to walk with Thee is heaven!

The full text of Our Master:

Immortal Love, forever full, forever flowing free,
forever shared, forever whole, a never-ebbing sea!

Our outward lips confess the name all other names above;
love only knoweth whence it came and comprehendeth love.

Blow, winds of God, awake and blow the mists of earth away!
Shine out, O Light Divine, and show how wide and far we stray!

Hush every lip, close every book, the strife of tongues forbear;
why forward reach, or backward look, for love that clasps like air?

We may not climb the heavenly steeps to bring the Lord Christ down;
in vain we search the lowest deeps, For Him no depths can drown.

Nor holy bread, nor blood of grape, the lineaments restore
of Him we know in outward shape And in the flesh no more.

He cometh not a king to reign; the world’s long hope is dim;
the weary centuries watch in vain the clouds of heaven for Him.

Death comes, life goes; the asking eye and ear are answerless;
The grave is dumb, the hollow sky is sad with silentness.

The letter fails, and systems fall, and every symbol wanes;
the Spirit over-brooding all eternal Love remains.

And not for signs in heaven above or earth below they look,
who know with John His smile of love, with Peter His rebuke.

In joy of inward peace, or sense of sorrow over sin,
He is His own best evidence, His witness is within.

No fable old, nor mythic lore, nor dream of bards and seers,
no dead fact stranded on the shore Of the oblivious years;-

but warm, sweet, tender, even yet a present help is He;
and faith has still its Olivet, and love its Galilee.

The healing of His seamless dress is by our beds of pain;
we touch Him in life’s throng and press, and we are whole again.

Through Him the first fond prayers are said our lips of childhood frame,
the last low whispers of our dead are burdened with His name.

Our Lord and Master of us all! Whate’er our name or sign,
we own Thy sway, we hear Thy call, we test our lives by Thine.

Thou judgest us; Thy purity doth all our lusts condemn;
the love that draws us nearer Thee is hot with wrath to them.

Our thoughts lie open to Thy sight; and, naked to Thy glance,
our secret sins are in the light of Thy pure countenance.

Thy healing pains, a keen distress Thy tender light shines in;
Thy sweetness is the bitterness, Thy grace the pang of sin.

Yet, weak and blinded though we be, Thou dost our service own;
we bring our varying gifts to Thee, and Thou rejectest none.

To Thee our full humanity, its joys and pains, belong;
the wrong of man to man on Thee inflicts a deeper wrong.

Who hates, hates Thee, who loves becomes therein to Thee allied;
all sweet accords of hearts and homes in Thee are multiplied.

Deep strike Thy roots, O heavenly Vine, within our earthly sod,
most human and yet most divine, the flower of man and God!

O Love! O Life! Our faith and sight Thy presence maketh one
as through transfigured clouds of white we trace the noon-day sun.

So, to our mortal eyes subdued, flesh-veiled, but not concealed,
we know in Thee the fatherhood and heart of God revealed.

We faintly hear, we dimly see, in differing phrase we pray;
but, dim or clear, we own in Thee the Light, the Truth, the Way!

The homage that we render Thee is still our Father’s own;
no jealous claim or rivalry divides the Cross and Throne.

To do Thy will is more than praise, as words are less than deeds,
and simple trust can find Thy ways we miss with chart of creeds.

No pride of self Thy service hath, no place for me and mine;
our human strength is weakness, death, our life, apart from Thine.

Apart from Thee all gain is loss, all labour vainly done;
the solemn shadow of Thy Cross is better than the sun.

Alone, O Love ineffable! Thy saving name is given;
to turn aside from Thee is hell, to walk with Thee is heaven!

How vain, secure in all Thou art, our noisy championship.
The sighing of the contrite heart is more than flattering lip.

Not Thine the bigot’s partial plea, nor Thine the zealot’s ban;
Thou well canst spare a love of Thee which ends in hate of man.

Our Friend, our Brother, and our Lord, what may Thy service be?–
nor name, nor form, nor ritual word, but simply following Thee.

We bring no ghastly holocaust, we pile no graven stone;
he serves Thee best who loveth most his brothers and Thy own.

Thy litanies, sweet offices of love and gratitude;
Thy sacramental liturgies, the joy of doing good.

In vain shall waves of incense drift the vaulted nave around,
In vain the minster turret lift its brazen weights of sound.

The heart must ring Thy Christmas bells, thy inward altars raise;
Its faith and hope Thy canticles, and its obedience praise!

God who made the earth

A hymn to sing along with…

The words were written by Sarah Betts Rhodes née Bradshaw (1830-1890), the wife of a Sheffield merchant, for the 1870 Sheffield Sunday School Union Whitsuntide Festival. I don’t know how many verses it had at that time, but an 1898 hymnal included seven. Modern hymnals only include three or four. This arrangement is for four of them, with the missing three shown below.

The tune Sommerlied (Summer Song) was written by Revd Carey Bonner (1859-1938), a Baptist minister who was ordained in 1874. He ministered at Sale 1884-1895. He went on to become involved in the Sunday School movement and was President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain 1931-1932. He wrote a number of hymns and published several hymnals. He seems to have used a number of pseudonyms as a hymn-writer, perhaps because of the prominent positions he held. This tune was published under the name of Hermann von Müller.

The tune is simple enough for children to learn, but I wouldn’t describe it as a childish tune and it has a pleasing accompaniment.

Sommerlied

God who made the earth,
the air, the sky, the sea,
who gave the light its birth,
careth for me.

God who made the grass,
the flower, the fruit, the tree,
the day and night to pass,
careth for me.

God who made the sun,
The moon, the stars, is he
who, when life’s clouds come on,
careth for me.

God who sent his Son
to die on Calvary,
he if I lean on him,
will care for me.

Here are the missing 1898 verses…

[4] God who made all things
On earth, in air, in sea,
Who changing seasons brings,
Careth for me.

[5] God, who gave me breath,
Be this my prayer to Thee,
That, when I sink in death,
Thou care for me.

[7] When in heaven’s bright land
I all His loved ones see,
I’ll sing with that blest band,
God cared for me.

Hidegard of Bingen – died 17 September 1179

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath. She founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs for women choirs to sing, and poems.

In this illumination from Liber Scivias, Hildegard is receiving a vision, dictating to her scribe and sketching on a wax tablet.

One of her poems was translated by Revd Frederick Littledale – he also translated Come Down, O Love divine and you can read more about him on that post.

Her words are here coupled with Third Mode Melody, which was contributed by Thomas Tallis (1515-1585) to Archbishop *Parker’s The Whole Psalter of 1567. The ancient rhythm and chords of the tune seem to fit well with the even more ancient words. The tune is the one used by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

*Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury 1559–1575.
He made a substantial contribution to the Book of Common Prayer.
Some people think he was the original “nosey Parker”.

Thomas Tallis (c 1505-1585) is considered to be one of England’s greatest composers. He may not have looked much like this picture, taken from a painting made 159 years after Tallis’s death.

Third Mode Melody

O FIRE of God, the Comforter, O life of all that live.
Holy art thou to quicken us, and holy, strength to give:
To heal the broken-hearted ones, their sorest wounds to bind,
O Spirit of all holiness, O Lover of mankind!

O sweetest taste within the breast, O grace upon us poured.
That saintly hearts may give again their perfume to the Lord.
O purest fountain! we can see, clear mirrored in thy streams.
That God brings home the wanderers, that God the lost redeems.

O breastplate strong to guard our life, O bond of unity,
O dwelling-place of righteousness, save all who trust in thee:
Defend those who in dungeon dark are prisoned by the foe.
And, for thy will is aye to save, let thou the captives go.

O surest way, that through the height and through the lowest deep
And through the earth dost pass, and all in firmest union keep;
From thee the clouds and ether move, from thee the moisture flows.
From thee the waters draw their rills, and earth with verdure glows.

And thou dost ever teach the wise, and freely on them pour
The inspiration of thy gifts, the gladness of thy lore.
All praise to thee, O joy of life, O hope and strength, we raise.
Who givest us the prize of light, who art thyself all praise.

O praise ye the Lord!

A hymn to sing along with…

The words are based on Psalms 150 and 148 and were written by Revd Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877). You can read more about him on the post for Shall we not love thee, Mother dear.

The tune Laudate Dominum comes from the end of the anthem “Hear My Words, O Ye People” by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), an anthem he composed in 1894 for a festival of the Salisbury Diocesan Choral Association. You can read more about C H H Parry on the post for Dear Lord and Father of mankind.

Parry’s tune was set to Baker’s text in the 1916 Supplement of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Laudate Dominum

O praise ye the Lord! Praise him in the height;
rejoice in his word, ye angels of light;
ye heavens, adore him by whom ye were made,
and worship before him, in brightness arrayed.

O praise ye the Lord! Praise him upon earth,
in tuneful accord, ye sons of new birth;
praise him who hath brought you his grace from above,
praise him who hath taught you to sing of his love.

O praise ye the Lord, all things that give sound;
each jubilant chord re-echo around;
loud organs, his glory forth tell in deep tone,
and, sweet harp, the story of what he hath done.

The stops have been pulled out for the last verse!

O praise ye the Lord! Thanksgiving and song
to him be outpoured all ages along:
for love in creation, for heaven restored,
for grace of salvation, O praise ye the Lord!
Amen, amen.

  • Veronica on O praise ye the Lord!I've always especially liked the last verse as it's usually played so energetically by the organist! 🙂

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer

A hymn to sing along with…

This well-known hymn is based on the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, using extracts from the book of Exodus chapters 13 to 17. It mentions manna (bread of heaven) and the water flowing from the rock that Moses struck with his staff (the crystal fountain). Mount Sinai is the fiery, cloudy pillar.

It is also an allegory for the journey of a Christian through life on earth requiring the Redeemer’s guidance and ending at the gates of Heaven (the verge of Jordan) and also referring to the end of time (death of death and hell’s destruction). In some versions of the text the name “Redeemer” replaces the name “Jehovah”.

It was originally written in Welsh by William Williams (1717-1791) and had six verses.

Although from a nonconformist family, William Williams was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England*, but was refused ordination to the priesthood because of his connection with Methodism. He became a minister in the Calvanistic Methodist of Wales instead.

He is regarded as the premier Welsh hymn writer and is also known as Pantycelyn.

*In 1920, the Anglican Church in Wales was disestablished and is now known as the Church in Wales

The English version of the hymn is based on a translation by Revd Peter Williams (1722-1796) which condensed the text into three verses. Peter Williams was a priest in the Church of England, but he also later became a Calvanistic Methodist. He was not related to William Williams.

The tune associated with the English version of the hymn is Cwm Rhondda, written by John Hughes (1873–1932). It was written in 1907.

Cwm Rhondda

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me now and evermore.
Feed me now and evermore.

Open thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream shall flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer
Be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to thee.
I will ever give to thee.

The Welsh version of the hymn (Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch, – Lord, Lead Me Through the Wilderness) is usually sung to the tune Capel y Ddôl. Here it is, together with the first verse to sing along with.

Capel y Ddôl

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch
Fi bererin gwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynwy’ nerth na bywyd
Fel yn gorwedd yn y bedd:
Hollalluog, hollalluog,
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.

The Welsh hymn normally paired with Cwm Rhondda is

Wele’n sefyll rhwng y myrtwydd
Wrthrych teilwng o fy mryd;
Er o’r braidd ‘rwy’n Ei adnabod
Ef uwchlaw gwrthrychau’r byd:
Henffych fore! Henffych fore!
Caf ei weled fel y mae.
Caf ei weled fel y mae.

Rhosyn Saron yw Ei enw,
Gwyn a gwridog, hardd Ei bryd!
Ar ddeng mil y mae’n rhagori
O wrthddrychau penna’r byd ;
Ffrind pechadur! Ffrind pechadur!
Dyma’r llywydd ar y môr.
Dyma’r llywydd ar y môr.

Beth sydd imi mwy a wnelwyf
Ag eilunod gwael y llawr?
Tystio ‘r wyf nad yw eu cwmni
I’w gymharu a’m Iesu Mawr.
O, am aros! O, am aros!
Yn Ei gariad ddyddiau f’oes!
Yn Ei gariad ddyddiau f’oes!

Lo, between the myrtles standing,
One who merits well my love,
Though His worth I guess but dimly,
High all earthly things above;
Happy morning! Happy morning!
When at last I see Him clear!
When at last I see Him clear!

Rose of Sharon, so men name Him;
White and red his cheeks adorn;
Store untold of earthly treasure
Will His merit put to scorn
Friend of sinners! Friend of sinners!
He their pilot o’er the deep.
He their pilot o’er the deep.

What can weigh with me henceforward
All the idols of the earth?
One and all I here proclaim them,
Matched with Jesus, nothing worth;
O, to rest me! O, to rest me!
All my lifetime in His love!
All my lifetime in His love!

Lift high the cross

A hymn to sing along with (especially on 14 September – Holy Cross Day)…

Another of those long processional hymns I remember from cassock and surplice days. But don’t worry, I’ve missed out most of the verses.

The words were written by the Very Reverend George William Kitchin in 1887, when he was Dean of Winchester. He was ordained deacon in 1852 and priested in 1859. He was Chaplain to the Bishop of Chester 1871-72. He was appointed Dean of Winchester in 1883 and Dean of Durham in 1894. The photo was taken by Charles L Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll).

The words were later revised by Revd Michael Robert Newbolt (1874-1956) in 1916 when the hymn first appeared in a supplement to “Hymns Ancient and Modern”. However, the (perhaps rather dated) verses presented here are thought to be Kitchin’s original version. (Michael Newbolt was later made a Canon of Chester Cathedral.)

The tune Crucifer is by Sir Sydney Hugo Nicholson (1875-1947) who also wrote the tune in this collection for Hail the day that sees him rise. Sydney Nicholson was organist at Manchester Cathedral (1908 – 1919) and Westminster Abbey (1919 – 1928). He was the founder of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in 1927. The tune was written in 1916 for Hymns A&M, of which Nicholson was the editor. It is not known what tune was used for this hymn prior to this date.

Crucifer

[Refrain]:
Lift high the Cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His Sacred Name.

Come, brethren, follow where our Captain trod,
Our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.
[Refrain]

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.
[Refrain]

From north and south, from east and west they raise
In growing unison their song of praise.
[Refrain]

Let every race and every language tell
Of Him Who saves our souls from death and hell. [Refrain]

So shall our song of triumph ever be,
Praise to the Crucified for victory.
[Refrain]

St John Chrysostom – 13 September

St John Chrysostom (347-470) is commemorated on 13 September (although in 2020 this date is the 14th Sunday after Trinity). He was the bishop of Constantinople in troubled times. He wasn’t afraid to speak out against the lifestyle of prominent people; this led to him being exiled a couple of times and he died in exile on 14 July 470. As this date is Holy Cross Day, he is commemorated on 13 July instead.

He was famous for his oratory. The agname Chrysostom means “golden mouth”. A prayer of his is familiar to us:

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfil now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

The words of the sing-along hymn provided here are not particularly relevant to St John C. But the tune is St Chrysostom by Sir Joseph Barnby (there is a little more about him on the post for When morning gilds the skies).

The words were written by Revd Henry Collins (1827-1919) and published in 1854, about the time he was ordained into the Church of England. However, in 1857, he entered the Roman Catholic communion, becoming a monk – a member of the Cistercian Order – in 1860.

St Chrysostom

Jesu, my Lord, my God, my all,
hear me, blest Saviour, when I call;
hear me, and from thy dwelling-place
pour down the riches of thy grace:
Jesu, my Lord, I thee adore,
O make me love thee more and more.

Jesu, too late I thee have sought,
how can I love thee as I ought?
And how extol thy matchless fame,
the glorious beauty of thy name?
Jesu, my Lord, I thee adore,
O make me love thee more and more.

Jesu, what didst thou find in me,
that thou hast dealt so lovingly?
How great the joy that thou hast brought,
so far exceeding hope or thought!
Jesu, my Lord, I thee adore,
O make me love thee more and more.

Jesu, of thee shall be my song,
to thee my heart and soul belong;
all that I am or have is thine,
and thou, sweet Saviour, thou art mine.
Jesu, my Lord, I thee adore,
O make me love thee more and more.

Amen

O thou who camest from above

A hymn to sing along with…

Another hymn by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). You can read more about him on the post for Love Divine, all loves excelling. The words were published in 1762 in two stanzas of eight lines, which makes sense as a poem. These days it is normally sung as a hymn with four verses.

The tune Hereford was written by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876), a grandson of Charles Wesley. He was the organist at Hereford Cathedral (1832), Exeter Cathedral (1836), Leeds Minster (1842) Winchester Cathedral (1849) and Gloucester Cathedral (1865).
Unlike many hymn tunes, this one has interesting harmony lines for all three of the lower voice parts.

Hereford

O thou who camest from above,
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work, and speak, and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up the gift in me.

Still let me prove thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat;
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete.

O for a closer walk with God

A hymn to sing along with…

The words were written by William Cowper (1731-1800). (His surname is pronounced Cooper). He was an important English poet, but was subject to periods of depression and spent a short period in an asylum. After recovering from this treatment he met up with John Newton; they collaborated in the collection of Olney Hymns published in 1879, to which Cowper contributed sixty-eight hymn texts, including this hymn and God moves in a mysterious way. (You can read more about John Newton in the post May the grace of Christ our Saviour.)

The hymn is set here to the tune Caithness. The melody is from the Scottish Psalter of 1635.

Caithness

O for a closer walk with God,
a calm and heavenly frame,
a light to shine upon the road
that leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew
when first I sought the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view
of Jesus and His Word?

What peaceful hours I then enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
the world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
and drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
whate’er that idol be,
help me to tear it from Thy throne
and worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
calm and serene my frame;
so purer light shall mark the road
that leads me to the Lamb.

Many different tunes have been published with the hymn over the years in different hymnals. One such is “The Green Hill” by the American George Coles Stebbins (1846–1945), a gospel hymn writer who worked with evangelists Moodey and Sankey. The tune was presumably written for There is a green hill far away, with which it is more usually associated. It is a double tune – so goes with two verses of the hymn. Here is a short burst…

The Green Hill

God be in my head

A hymn to sing along with…

This short song of petition for God’s presence is from the 1558 Sarum Primer, which was a collection of prayers and worship resources developed in Salisbury during the 13th century.

This can be a personal prayer used at any time.
It is also appropriate for singing at a funeral.

The arrangement here was written by Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941) who succeeded Sir Edward Elgar as Master of the King’s Music in 1934. His tune Oswald’s Tree is in this collection – see Great Shepherd of thy people. He also wrote a tune for O little town of Bethlehem

God be in my head

The first phrase of the melody is played as an introduction before the choir starts singing

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.