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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

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Sing-Along Hymns

Cecil Frances Alexander née Humphreys (1818-1895)

She was the wife of Revd William Alexander, who later became Archbishop of Armagh.

She published a book in 1848 called Hymns for little children and dedicated it to her godsons.

Poems 8 to 20 explain the meaning of the Apostles’ Creed. Three of these poems are well-known hymns today, one of which is included here. The other poems are included below.

(Scroll down to see more hymns)

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From out the cloud of amber light

This hymn commemorates Saint Mark.

The winged creatures associated with the four evangelists appeared in a vision described in Ezekiel 1.4-10: And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

In Christian tradition, the lion represents Mark, the calf Luke, the man Matthew, and the eagle John.

The tune Wellington was composed by Michael Fleming (1928-2006). It was written for the ancient Advent hymn Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates. Michael Fleming was organist for some years at the annual televised Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

From out the cloud of amber light,
Borne on the whirlwind from the north,
Four living creatures winged and bright
Before the prophet’s eye came forth.

The voice of God was in the four
Beneath that awful crystal mist,
And every wondrous form they wore
Foreshadowed an evangelist.

The lion-faced, he told abroad
The strength of love, the strength of faith;
He showed th’almighty Son of God,
The Man divine who won by death.

O Lion of the royal tribe,
Strong Son of God, and strong to save,
All power and honour we ascribe
To Thee who only makest brave.

For strength to love, for will to speak,
For fiery crowns by martyrs won,
For suffering patience, strong and meek,
We praise Thee, Lord, and Thee alone.

Wellington

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Ezekiel’s Vision – Raphael

I bind unto myself today

The hymn commemorating Saint Patrick is based on a prayer written in Old Gaelic and attributed to Saint Patrick himself. Two verses have been omitted (see below), but there is still about seven minutes of singing to do.

The tune St Patrick's Breastplate is setting of two Irish traditional melodies was arranged by Charles Villiers Stanford. (the second tune is used for the section beginning "Christ be with me").

[1] I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

[2] I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spicèd tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

[3] I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

[4] I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea
around the old eternal rocks.

[5] I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

[8] Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

[9] Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

[10] I bind unto myself the name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in Three;
of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation:
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Amen.

St Patrick's Breastplate

[6] Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile foes that mar my course;
or few or many, far or nigh,
in every place and in all hours,
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers:

[7] against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles,
against the heart’s idolatry,
against the wizard’s evil craft,
against the death-wound and the burning,
the choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

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"How many more verses?"

There is one way, and only one

A hymn to commemorate Saint Philip and Saint James (who share a Saint's Day).

In the 6th century, a church was built in Rome and dedicated on 1 May (not sure which year) to St Philip and St James (it was later renamed the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles). The supposed relics of the two saints were re-buried in the church, which is the reason for the choice of 1 May as the day when both saints are commemorated. The original church was ruined in the earthquake of 1348 and has been rebuilt and renovated over the following centuries.

In verse three of the hymn the phrase “The lore from Philip once concealed” refers to John 14.8-11: Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake…

The tune chosen to accompany the words is Wareham by William Knapp (1698-1768). It is familiar as the tune to Jesus where’er thy people meet. Knapp was a glover by trade and the parish clerk of Poole parish church from 1728. Although his work was very popular in his lifetime, this is the only one of his tunes in regular use these days.

There is one way, and only one,
out of our gloom, and sin, and care,
to that fair land where shines no sun
because the face of God is there.

There is one truth, the truth of God,
that Christ came down from heaven to show,
one life that His redeeming blood
has won for all His saints below.

The lore, from Philip once concealed,
we know its fulness now in in Christ;
in Him the Father is revealed,
and all our longing is sufficed.

And still unwavering faith holds sure
the words that James wrote sternly down;
except we labour and endure,
we cannot win the heavenly crown.

O Way divine, through gloom and strife,
bring us Thy Father’s face to see;
O heavenly Truth, O precious Life,
at last, at last, to rest in Thee.
Amen.

Wareham

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Saint Philip and Saint James

Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult

A hymn to commemorate Saint Andrew.

The tune St Andrew is by Edward Henry Thorne (1834-1916). He was appointed organist of Henley Parish Church at the age of 19 and was organist of Chichester Cathedral from 1863-1870. A number of his hymns were included in Hymns Ancient and Modern, but this is the only one in common use today.

Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea,
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me;”

As of old, Saint Andrew heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home, and toil, and kindred,
Leaving all for His dear sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, “Christian, love Me more.”

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
“That we love Him more than these.”

Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.

St Andrew

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Saint Andrew

Andrew the Apostle was the brother of Simon Peter. They were both fishermen. Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, a region where Greek language and culture were known. The name “Andrew” is of Greek origin and no Hebrew or Aramaic name has been recorded for him. it is thought that he preached along the Black Sea and as far east as Novgorod, so became patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia.

He is said to have been martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross at Patras in Achaea in AD 60. Legend has it that his relics were brought to the site of the modern city of St Andrews in Scotland. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”; he had by then been considered to be Scotland’s patron saint for several centuries. The Saltire (national flag of Scotland) is a white X-shaped cross on a blue background.

Once in royal David’s City

page from book

Once in royal David’s city is poem 11 in this little book. The other poems about the Apostle’s Creed are shown below and in the next column

The tune Irby is by the organist Henry John Gauntlett, who discovered the poem in 1849 and set it to music.

Once in royal David’s City,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed.
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from Heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

And through all his wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lovely maiden
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood’s Pattern,
Day by day like us He grew,
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew.
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His Own redeeming love.
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
Set at God’s right Hand on high.
When like stars His children crowned
All in white, shall wait around.

Irby

The Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

[8]
How good is the Almighty God,
How merciful and mild.
Who is to me a Father dear,
And I His favoured child.

There’s no one in the whole wide earth
Not my own mother even,
Who loves me half as well as He,
My Father high in Heaven.

Did He not give His Own dear Son,
To die for sinful men ?
To turn them from their wicked ways,
And bring them back again;

Back to the place that they had lost,
Back to their Father’s love,
Their Father, the Great God of all,
Their home, His Heaven above!

And I am called by Christ’s dear Name
I took the solemn vow
That made me His for evermore,
God is my Father now.

creator of heaven and earth.

[9]
All things bright and beautiful…

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

[10]
When we speak of the Lord Jesus,
When His awful Name is said,
We will repeat it solemnly,
We will bow the head.

For our Lord He is, and Master,
And he left his Father’s side;
He was born a little Baby,
Here He lived and died.

‘Twas for us He left His glory,
Died the death of pain and shame;
We will try to do him honour,
We will love His Name.

In the holy Church we say it,
Speaking all with one accord,
In our quiet homes we read it
In God’s Holy Word.

Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Master,—
Whensoe’er that Name is said,
We will repeat it solemnly,
We will bow the head.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.

[11]
Once in royal David’s city…

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

[12]
There is a green hill far away…

He descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;

[13]
The rich man did of Pilate crave
The lifeless body of the Lord,
And laid it in his own new grave;
There all night long with spear and sword,
The Roman soldiers watched the stone,
Where the world’s Saviour lay alone.

But with the first day’s dawning bright,
That heavy stone was rolled away,
Two glorious Angels all in white
Sat where the Saviour’s Body lay;
The watch, the seal, were all in vain,
The Lord of Life was risen again.

There are short graves in churchyard ground,
Where little children buried lie,
Each underneath his narrow mound,
With stiff cold hand, and close shut eye ;
Bright morning sunbeams kiss the spot.
Yet day by day they open not.

But surely as our Saviour rose
On Easter morn from Joseph’s cave,
Shall all those mounds at last unclose.
And Christian people leave the grave.
He died, He slept, He rose to be
An earnest of our victory.

Lord, Who for us so cold and deep
Down in that garden grave hast lain,
When we like Thee must fall asleep,
Be with us in our hour of pain.
That strengthened by Thy Grace Divine,
Alive or dead we may be Thine.

he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from thence he will come to judge the quick and the dead.

[14]
Up in Heaven, up in Heaven,
In the bright place far away,
He Whom bad men crucified,
Sitteth at His Father’s side.
Till the Judgment Day.

And He loves His little children,
And He pleadeth for them there,
Asking the Great God of Heaven
That their sins may be forgiven,
And He hears their prayer.

Never more a helpless Baby,
Born in poverty and pain,
But with awful glory crowned,
With his Angels standing round,
He shall come again.

Then the wicked souls shall tremble,
And the good souls shall rejoice.
Parents, children, every one,
Then shall stand before His throne.
And shall hear His voice.

And all faithful holy Christians,
Who their Master’s work have done
Shall appear at His right hand,
And inherit the fair land
That His love has won.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

[15]
I knew a little sickly child;
The long, long summer’s day
When all the world was green and bright
Alone in bed he lay.
There used to come a little dove
Before his window small.
And sing to him with her sweet voice.
Out of the fir tree tall.

And when the sick child better grew,
And he could crawl along
Close to that window he would creep,
And listen to her song;
And he was gentle in his speech,
And quiet at his play,
He would not for the world have made
That sweet bird fly away.

There is a holy dove that sings
To every Christian child.
That whispers to his little heart
A song as sweet and mild.
It is the Holy Spirit of God,
That speaks his soul within,

That leads him on to all things good,
And holds him back from sin.

And he must hear that still small Voice
Nor tempt It to depart,
The Spirit great and wonderful,
That whispers to his heart;
He must be pure, and good and true,
Must strive, and watch, and pray.
For unresisted sin at last
Will drive that dove away.

TO

TO MY LITTLE GODSONS,

I INSCRIBE THESE SIMPLE LINES,

HOPING THAT

THE LANGUAGE OF VERSE WHICH CHILDREN LOVE

MAY HELP TO IMPRESS ON THEIR MINDS

WHAT THEY ARE,

WHAT I HAVE PROMISED FOR THEM,

AND

WHAT THEY MUST SEEK TO BE.

C. F. A

the holy catholic Church, [two poems]

[16]
Little children must be quiet,
When to Holy Church they go,
They must sit with serious faces,
Must not play or whisper low.

For the Church is God’s Own Temple,
Where men go for praise and prayer,
And the Great God will not love them,
Who forget His Presence there.

They were little Jewish children,
Who within the temple cried,
“Honour to the Son of David,”
Standing at our Saviour’s side.

How much more should Christian children
Know His Name and praise Him too,
Who of His Own Church are members,
Sons of God, and born anew.

They must walk in reverent order,
Stand for praise and kneel for prayer,
For the Church is God’s Own Temple,
And His Presence dwelleth there.

[16*]
The faithful men of every land,
Who Christ’s Own rule obey,
The holy dead of every time—

The Church of Christ are they.

The Saints who die, and leave us now,
The Good of long ago,
Women, and men, and children young.
Still living here below:

Who have the same eternal hope,
The same unceasing care,
One universal hymn of praise,
One general voice of prayer:

All members of one body vast,
With Jesus for their Head,
And sacraments whereby their souls
Are born again and fed:

And Bishops good to order them,
And Priests to train and teach,—
This is the Holy Church, wherein
We have our places each.

the communion of saints,

[17]
The Saints of God are holy men,
And women good, and children dear.
All those who ever loved the Lord,
Who live in faith and fear.

They are not all together now,
For some are dead, and gone before.
And some are striving still on earth.
Their trial is not o’er.

Great numbers are they, of all states,
And born in every place and land,
Who never saw each other’s face,
Nor touched each other’s hand.

But they are all made one in Christ,
They love each other tenderly,
The old and young, the rich and poor.
Of that great company.

Christ’s little children, called His Own,
And saved by his Redeeming Blood,
They must be little Saints on earth,
And all the Saints are good.

They must not fight or disobey,
For Saints do never things like these;
They must be holy, meek, and mild,
And try the Lord to please.

And there shall come a glorious Day,
When all the good Saints every one,
Shall meet within their Father’s home,
And stand before His Throne.

the forgiveness of sins,

[18]
Once in baptismal waters bright
He washed our sinful spirits white,
Forgave us once for all.
But we have sometimes sinned since then;
Now who shall make us clean again?
And who shall hear our call ?

There is One only Who forgives,
Christ Who was born. Who died,
Who lives Pleading beside the Throne.
Who hath His Holy Spirit sent,
To bless that precious Sacrament
That made us first His Own.

Who when his Holy Church within,
Confession sad of all our sin
We make on bended knee,
Accepts the penitential prayer,
And bids His Minister declare
Our pardon full and free.

He only hears the sinner’s cry,
He only dries the mourner’s eye,
No father half so mild,
Not half so kind a mother’s kiss,
When pardoning what is done amiss,
She soothes her sorrowing child.

We must take heed to cast no stain
On souls lie bought with so much pain,
And with His Blood made pure,
And we must trust to Him alone,
Who did for all our guilt atone.
Who made our pardon sure.

The last two poems were included in the 1889 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. The editor of the hymnal, William Henry Monk (composer of the tune Eventide for Abide with me), died the day before the publication date.

the resurrection of the body,

[19]
Within the churchyard, side by side,
Are many long low graves.
And some have stones set over them.—
On some the green grass waves.

Full many a little Christian child,
Woman and man lies there,
And we pass by them every time
When we go in to prayer.

They cannot hear our footsteps come,
They do not see us pass,
They cannot feel the bright warm sun
That shines upon the grass.

They do not hear when the great bell
Is ringing over head ;
They cannot rise and come to Church
With us, for they are dead.

But we believe a Day shall come,
When all the dead will rise,
When they who sleep down in the grave
Will ope again their eyes.

For Christ our Lord was buried once.
He died and rose again,
He conquered death. He left the grave.
And so will Christian men.

So when the friends we loved the best
Lie in their churchyard bed,
We must not cry too bitterly
Over the happy dead;

Because for our dear Saviour’s sake,
Our sins are all forgiven,
And Christians only fall asleep,
To wake again in Heaven.

and life everlasting.

[20]
Every morning the red sun
Rises warm and bright.
But the evening cometh on,
And the dark cold night.
There’s a bright land far away
Where ’tis never ending day.

Every spring the sweet young flowers
Open bright and gay.
Till the chilly autumn hours
Wither them away.
There’s a land we have not seen,
Where the trees are always green.

Little birds sing songs of praise
All the summer long,
But in colder shorter days
They forget their song.
There’s a place where Angels sing
Ceaseless praises to their King.

Christ our Lord is ever near
Those who follow Him,
But we cannot see Him here,
For our eyes are dim.
There is a most happy place,
Where men always see His face.

Who shall go to that bright land
All who do the right:
Holy children there shall stand.
In their robes of white,
For that Heaven so bright and blest,
Is our everlasting rest.

Amen.

For each hymn we have provided a set of verses together with an electronically generated sound-track. The sound track does not provide any words - just the tune.

The selection of hymns to be included was subject to certain limitations, notably the restrictions of copyright. This meant that many modern hymns were excluded, and the exclusion even applied to some updated versions of traditional hymns. Some publishers have made a few minor changes to make hymns more "inclusive" and have then claimed copyright over the revised text. So in most cases the ORIGINAL texts have been used, even though these may not be the versions that appear in modern hymnals.

In deciding what tunes to be used, this has largely been the Webmaster's personal choice. It is a mixture of familiar tunes and tunes that are not well-known, but deserve to be better known. The webmaster has included some personal favourites (and excluded some pet hates!). The soundtracks provided go with the words provided - if there are four verses, the tune is repeated four times. Where possible tunes have been provided with descants or alternative arrangements.

Wherever possible, there is an explanation of who wrote the words or tunes, the circumstances under which they were written, when (and sometimes why). Many hymns include references to verses appearing in the King James Version of the Bible; more modern translations were not then available! In some cases we have tried to explain these scriptural references or other instances where words have changed their meaning over time.

This selection of "Sing-along Songs of Praise" was originally a series of blog posts written during the COVID Lockdowns of 2020. It was intended to allow people to sing hymns in the safety and privacy of their own homes at a time when hymn-singing in church was not allowed (even if the church building was open!).

When hymns are sung as part of a church service, it is normally the case that the hymn books are set aside at the end of the hymn and the next part of the service continues. There is no time to sit and reflect on the meaning or the beauty of words and/or music. This collection allows you to take your time, to read, listen sing along, reflect, and to repeat a hymn again if you wish.

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Last modified: 05 March 2021