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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, SK10 5EG
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Sing-Along Hymns

Revd Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

He was the 18th child in the family that included his brother Revd John Wesley. Charles is known as the “Bard of Methodism”. He joined John on itinerant preaching expeditions but the two brothers didn’t agree on everything. Both were ordained into the Church of England and Charles insisted that he remained a member of this Church until his death. He was buried in the churchyard of St Marylebone and his coffin was carried by six CofE clergymen.

All the hymns on this page were written by him, although one is a re-working of an earlier hymn

He also wrote
Author of life divine
Forth in thy name, O Lord I go
Hail the day that sees him rise
.

His grandson, Samuel Sebastian Wesley was a noted composer and organist.

(Scroll down for more hymns)

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O thou who camest from above

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. Unlike many hymn tunes, this one has interesting harmony lines for all three of the lower voice parts.

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.

Hereford

Peace be to this congregation

The delightful modern tune Ellen is by Alison Cadden, a music teacher from Portadown, who has written other music for the Church of Ireland.

Peace be to this congregation,
peace to every soul therein,
peace, which flows from Christ’s salvation,
peace, the fruit of pardoned sin,

peace that speaks its heavenly Giver,
peace, to earthly minds unknown,
peace divine that lasts forever,
peace that comes from God alone.

Jesus, Prince of peace, be near us;
fix in all our hearts your home;
with your gracious presence cheer us;
let your sacred kingdom come;

raise to heaven our expectation,
give our favoured souls to prove
glorious and complete salvation,
in the realms of bliss above.

Ellen

Jesu, Lover of my soul

The tune Aberystwyth was composed by Joseph Parry (1841-1903) and published in 1878, the year before this portrait photo was taken. At that time he was the first Professor of Music at Aberystwyth University (1874-1880).

He had a hard start in life; born in Merthyr Tydfil into a poor family he was working in a coal mine from the age of nine. Later he worked in an iron works in Wales. He emigrated to USA with the rest of his family in 1854 and worked in a steel mill.

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It wasn’t until he was 17 years old that he had the opportunity (during temporary closure of the iron works where he was then employed) to study music with some co-workers, and also to learn to read and write. Aged 20, he was awarded first prize at an eisteddfod at Utica in New York State. Although he visited Wales and received awards at Welsh eisteddfods, it was not until 1868 that he was able to formally study at the Royal Academy of Music after a fund was established to support him and his family. He later obtained a degree at Cambridge University. He returned to USA and set up a music school. When Aberystwyth University established a chair for music in 1874, it was offered to Parry. He lectured and taught at Cardiff University from 1888. He died in 1903, two weeks after suddenly falling ill despite (or perhaps because of) surgery. 7,000 people gathered in Penarth for his funeral.

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high;
hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none;
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenceless head
with the shadow of thy wing.

Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound;
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art;
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity.

Aberystwyth

Rejoice, the Lord is King!

First published in 1744, this hymn is inspired by Philippians 4.4 Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say: Rejoice.

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Although George Friederich Händel (1685-1759) spent the bulk of his career in London and was well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, he only wrote three tunes for English hymns (all by Charles Wesley). Only one of these tunes, Gopsal, is in common use today.

Gopsal (or Gopsall) Hall (now demolished) near Hinckley, Leicestershire, was the home of Charles Jennens, a friend of Handel. It is rumoured that part of Messiah was written at Gopsal during one of Handel’s visits there.

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
your Lord and King adore;
mortals, give thanks and sing,
and triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus the Saviour reigns,
the God of truth and love;
when he had purged our stains,
he took his seat above:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail,
he rules o’er earth and heaven;
the keys of death and hell
are to our Jesus given:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand
till all his foes submit,
and bow to his command,
and fall beneath his feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope!
Jesus the Judge shall come,
and take his servants up
to their eternal home.
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
the trump of God shall sound: Rejoice!

Gopsal

Come, O thou Traveller unknown

This hymn may not be very familiar these days. We normally only hear about “Wrestling Jacob” once every three years as it comes round in the lectionary. Charles Wesley wrote a 14-stanza poem based on the story from Genesis 32.24-30. Some of the stanzas were used as a hymn (the missing verses are shown below).

The tune David's Harp was written by Robert King (about whom little is known) and appeared in The Divine Companion, published in 1709 published by Henry Playford.

The divine companion: or, David’s harp new-tun’d. Being a choice collection of psalms, hymns, and anthems, for one, two, three, four and five voices: …words being taken from the best authors, ...

[1] Come, O thou Traveller unknown,
whom still I hold, but cannot see;
my company before is gone,
and I am left alone with thee;
with thee all night I mean to stay
and wrestle till the break of day.

[2] I need not tell thee who I am,
my misery and sin declare;
thyself hast called my by my name,
look on thy hands and read it there:
but who, I ask thee, who art thou?
tell me thy name, and tell me now.

[3] In vain thou strugglest to get free;
I never will unloose my hold:
art thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of thy love unfold:
wrestling, I will not let thee go
till I thy name, thy nature know.

[8] Yield to me now, for I am weak,
but confident, in self-despair;
speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
be conquered by my instant prayer:
speak, or thou never hence shalt move,
and tell me if thy name is Love.

[9] ‘Tis Love, ’tis Love! Thou diedst for me!
I hear thy whisper in my heart;
the morning breaks, the shadows flee,
pure, universal Love thou art:
to me, to all, thy mercies move;
thy nature and thy name is Love.

David's Harp

[4] Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal
Thy new, unutterable Name?
Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell;
To know it now resolved I am;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

[5] ‘Tis all in vain to hold Thy tongue
Or touch the hollow of my thigh;
Though every sinew be unstrung,
Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly;
Wrestling I will not let Thee go
Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

[6] What though my shrinking flesh complain,
And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain,
When I am weak, then I am strong
And when my all of strength shall fail,
I shall with the God-man prevail.

[7] My strength is gone, my nature dies,
I sink beneath Thy weighty hand,
Faint to revive, and fall to rise;
I fall, and yet by faith I stand;
I stand and will not let Thee go
Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

[10] My prayer hath power with God; the grace
Unspeakable I now receive;
Through faith I see Thee face to face,
I see Thee face to face, and live!
In vain I have not wept and strove;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

[11] I know Thee, Saviour, who Thou art.
Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend;
Nor wilt Thou with the night depart.
But stay and love me to the end,
Thy mercies never shall remove;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

[12] The Sun of Righteousness on me
Hath rose with healing in His wings,
Withered my nature’s strength; from Thee
My soul its life and succour brings;
My help is all laid up above;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

[13] Contented now upon my thigh
I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness I
On Thee alone for strength depend;
Nor have I power from Thee to move:
Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.

[14] Lame as I am, I take the prey,
Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Love Divine, all loves excelling

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William Penfro Rowlands

Two different tunes are associated with this hymn. One is Blaenwern by William Penfro Rowlands (1860-1937). Penfro is Welsh for Pembroke, the county where he was born. He was a schoolteacher, a church musician and conductor of the Morrison United Choral Society of Swansea. This tune is his best-known composition and was first published in 1915. It was used at the wedding blessing of Prince Charles and Camilla, the wedding of Prince William and Kate, and at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

The second tune is by Sir John Stainer. Although entitled Love Divine it is only four lines in length, so needs to be sung through twice to fit each eight-line verse. Perhaps it was originally intended for another hymn?

Both tunes are provided here. The descant to Blaenwern was originally composed by Stephen Barker (b. 1977) for the hymn God is here! as we his people. It was sung at the Licensing and Installation of Rev. Kevin Maddy as Priest in Charge of St Stephen’s Church, Canterbury in September 2014. Subsequently it has been adapted for Love divine, all loves excelling.

The words provided are those published in 1783 and differ only slightly from modern versions. The musical arrangements are for three of the original four verses (the missing verse is shown below).

[1] Love divine, all love excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down!
Fix in us thine humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown;
Jesus! thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love thou art,
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart!

[3] Come! Almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy life receive!
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more thy temples leave!
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
Glory in thy precious love.

[4] Finish then thy new creation,
Pure, unspotted may we be,
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored by thee!
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love and praise!

Blaenwern

Love Divine

[2] Breathe! O breathe thy lovely spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit,
Let us find the promised rest;
Take away the power of sinning,
Alpha and Omega be,
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Lo! he comes with clouds descending

Revelation 1.7: Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

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John Cennick

The original hymn Lo! He cometh, countless Trumpets was written by John Cennick (1718-1755). Although raised in an Anglican family, he became associated at various times with Quakers, Wesleyans, Calvanistic Methodists, Baptists and Moravians. His hymn was published in 1752.

The hymn was substantially re-written by Charles Wesley to provide the version we know today (although there are a number of varying texts). It was first published in 1758. The basic structure survives, along with a few phrases. (Cennick’s version is shown below).

The melody of the tune Helmsley has been attributed to Thomas Arne (1710-1778) and also to Thomas Olivers (1725-1799). It was the latter who published the tune in 1765, reputedly after hearing it whistled in the street.

Arne wrote the tune Arlington, in this collection coupled with Amazing grace.

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand thousand saints, attending,
swell the triumph of his train:
Hallelujah! [x3]
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, [x3]
shall the true Messiah see.

All the tokens of His passion
still His dazzling body bears:
cause of endless exultation
to His ransomed worshippers;
with what rapture [x3]
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory;
claim the kingdom for Thine own.
O come quickly! [x3]
Hallelujah! Come, Lord, come.

Helmsley

Here is the text by John Cennick (as published in 1821, several decades after his death):

Lo! He cometh! countless trumpets
blow, to raise the sleeping dead;
midst ten thousand saints and angels
see their great exalted Head.
Hallelujah,
welcome, welcome, Son of God.

Now his merit, by the harpers,
thro’ th’ eternal deep resounds;
now resplendent shine his nail-prints,
every eye shall see his wounds:
they who pierc’d him
shall at his appearance wail.

Full of joyful expectation,
Saints behold the Judge appear:
truth and justice go before him,
now the joyful sentence hear.
Hallelujah,
welcome, welcome Judge divine.

“Come, ye blessed of my Father,
enter into life and joy;
banish all your fears and sorrows,
endless praise be your employ.
Hallelujah,
welcome, welcome, to the skies.

Now at once they rise to glory,
Jesus brings them to the King;
there, with all the hosts of heaven,
they eternal anthems sing.
Hallelujah,
boundless glory to the Lamb.

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