He was ordained in 1844 and was vicar of Monkland (near Leominster) from 1851 until his death. (In 1851 he also became 3rd Baronet Baker of Dunstable House.)
He was the first compiler and editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern.
It is recorded that the last audible words which lingered on his dying lips were from what is probably his best-known hymn: Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, but yet in love He sought me; and on His shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me.
He wrote a number of hymns, but also composed some hymn tunes.
Another of his hymns is Shall we not love thee, Mother dear.
(Scroll down to see more hymns)
No, this is not about how you feel in Lockdown, these words are the start of a poem written over a thousand years ago by a Greek monk who lived in Palestine and set to a tune, Stephanos, by Henry Williams Baker.
Saint Stephen the Sabaite (725-794) was left in the monastery of Mar Saba by his uncle at the age of ten, and spent the rest of his life there. By his mid-twenties, he felt so drawn to a life of seclusion and contemplation, he asked the abbot of the community for permission to self-isolate as a hermit. Due to the great skill in giving spiritual direction he already showed at that young age, the abbot gave him limited permission. The condition was that he make himself available to others on weekends.
He is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, his name-day being 10 November in the Gregorian Calendar (28 October in the Julian Calendar as used in parts of the Orthodox Church)
The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas, known in Syriac as Mar Saba, is a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley at a point halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
The poem was translated by J M Neale. Not all the stanzas are used for the hymn; the missing ones are shown below. It’s understandable that congregations might not want to sing eleven verses, but stanzas 5-7 (in particular) are a key part of the whole poem.
 Art thou weary, art thou languid,
art thou sore distressed?
Come to me, saith one, and coming
be at rest.
 Hath he marks to lead me to him
if he be my Guide?
In his feet and hands are wound-prints,
and his side.
 Hath he diadem as Monarch
that his brow adorns?
Yea, a crown in very surety,
but of thorns!
 If I find him, if I follow,
what my portion here?
Many a sorrow, many a labour,
many a tear.
 If I still hold closely to him,
what hath he at last?
Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,
 If I ask him to receive me,
will he say me nay?
Not till earth and not till
Heaven pass away.
 Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
is he sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
[5, 6, 7] Is this all He hath to give me
in my life below?
“Joy unspeakable and glorious
thou shalt know.
All thy sins shall be forgiven,
all things work for good;
Thou shalt Bread of Life from heaven
have for food.
From the fountains of salvation
thou shalt water draw;
Sweet shall be thy meditation –
in God’s Law.”
 Festal palms and crown of glory,
robes in blood washed white,
God in Christ His people’s temple, where there
is no light.”
The words are based on Psalms 150 and 148 and were written by Revd Henry Williams Baker.
The tune Laudate Dominum comes from the end of the anthem Hear My Words, O Ye People by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, an anthem he composed in 1894 for a festival of the Salisbury Diocesan Choral Association.
Parry’s tune was set to Baker’s text in the 1916 Supplement of Hymns Ancient and Modern.
It is traditional for the organist to pull out most of the stops for the last verse!
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.
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.
The words are a metrical version of Psalm 23 and were written by Revd Henry Williams Baker.
The tune Dominus regit me was written for this hymn by J B Dykes. The words and tune first appeared in the Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern published 1868 (by Henry Williams Baker).
The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me;
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home, rejoicing, brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spreadst a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and oh, what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!
And so through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.
Dominus regit me
The words were originally written by William Bullock (1798-1874) and subsequently altered by Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877). Revd William Bullock had been a young officer in the Royal Navy given the task of surveying the coast of Newfoundland. As he did so, he was greatly distressed that the people there lacked anyone to preach the Word of God to them. He later resigned his naval post, and after preparation, returned to Newfoundland as a missionary.
The tune Quam dilecta was written by Bishop Henry Lascelles Jenner (1820-1898). He was ordained priest in 1844 and after a curacy in Cornwall, he became Rector of Preston-next-Wingham, East Kent. When the diocese of Dunedin, New Zealand was created in 1866, Dr Jenner was consecrated as Bishop of Dunedin at Canterbury Cathedral (that’s Canterbury in England!). The New Zealanders did not approve of his enthusiasm for Anglo-Catholicism and he was forced to resign the post in 1871. He returned to Preston-next-Wingham and served there as parish priest until his death, only occasionally undertaking bishop’s duties.
The population of Preston-next-Wingham in the 19th century was around 500.
We love the place, O God,
wherein thine honour dwells;
the joy of thine abode
all earthly joy excels.
We love the house of prayer,
wherein thy servants meet;
and thou, O Lord, art there
thy chosen flock to greet.
We love the sacred font;
for there the holy Dove
to pour is ever wont
his blessing from above.
We love thine altar, Lord;
O what on earth so dear?
for there, in faith adored,
we find thy presence near.
We love the word of life,
the word that tells of peace,
of comfort in the strife,
and joys that never cease.
We love to sing below
for mercies freely given;
but O we long to know
the triumph-song of heaven.
Lord Jesus, give us grace
on earth to love thee more,
in heaven to see thy face,
and with thy saints adore.
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.
The picture of the chalice is symbolic of:
"A joyful image of a Eucharistic community which knows how to celebrate God's goodness to us but also how to reach out to the community and connect with those in need, in pain, in difficulty, who feel lost or neglected, or that they don't belong."
Come and join us! Explore this website to find out about our activities. We look forward to seeing you soon at one of our services or events!