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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

Sir Richard Runciman Terry (1864-1938)
Fr Francis Stanfield (1835-1914)

Terry was an organist and music teacher. Originally an Anglican, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1896 and was appointed organist and director of music at the Benedictine Downside School in Somerset. While there he began the massively important work of reviving the Latin music of Tudor English composers such as William Byrd and Thomas Tallis. He was appointed as the first organist and Musical director of Westminster Cathedral, a post which he held until 1924.

As well as the tune for O Perfect Love he composed:
Billing Praise to the Holiest in the height, and
Providence Lord, for tomorrow and its needs,
and harmonised Notre Dieu An image of that heavenly light.

- - -

Stanfield was an English Catholic priest who worked in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster. He is noted for having written many hymns and composed the music for several of them.

portrait

R R Terry

O Perfect Love

The words to this hymn were written by Dorothy Frances Blomfield Gurney (1858–1932), who was the granddaughter of Charles James Blomfield, Bishop of London from 1828 to 1856. She wrote them for her sister’s wedding, apparently in just fifteen minutes. Dorothy married Gerald Gurney in 1897. In 1904 her husband was ordained an Anglican priest, but they both joined the Roman Catholic church in 1919. The metre of the hymn was originally inspired by the tune by J B Dykes for the hymn O strength and stay. The tune Sandringham was composed for the hymn by Sir Joseph Barnby and used at the wedding of Princess Louise in 1889, but this tune has fallen out of fashion and is not often used today in the UK. R R Terry composed the tune Highwood.

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou in sacred vow dost join in one.

O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance
of tender charity and steadfast faith,
of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
with childlike trust that fears no pain or death.

Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife;
grant them the vision of the glorious morrow
that will reveal eternal love and life.

Highwood

(one verse of the tune by Joseph Barnby)

Sandringham

Sweet Sacrament divine

Francis Stanfield wrote the words of the hymn and the tune Divine mysteries.

Sweet Sacrament divine,
hid in thine earthly home,
Lo, round thy lowly shrine,
with suppliant hearts we come;
Jesu, to thee our voice we raise
in songs of love and heartfelt praise:
Sweet Sacrament divine,
Sweet Sacrament divine.

Sweet Sacrament of peace,
dear home for every heart,
Where restless yearnings cease
and sorrows all depart;
There in thine ear all trustfully
We tell our tale of misery:
Sweet Sacrament of peace,
Sweet Sacrament of peace.

Sweet Sacrament of rest,
ark from the ocean’s roar,
Within thy shelter blest
soon may we reach the shore;
Save us, for still the tempest raves,
Save, lest we sink beneath the waves:
Sweet Sacrament of rest,
Sweet Sacrament of rest.

Sweet Sacrament divine,
earth’s light and jubilee,
In thy far depths doth shine
the Godhead’s majesty;
Sweet light, so shine on us, we pray
That earthly joys may fade away:
Sweet Sacrament divine,
Sweet Sacrament divine.

Divine mysteries

front cover

There is a land of peace and love

This hymn appeared in the (Roman Catholic) Westminster Hymnal of 1912 and a shorter version in the (Protestant) Church Hymnal a few years later, but I don’t think that it has been published often (if at all) in the last hundred years. Perhaps the sentiments are considered too old fashioned these days. But some of us are quite fond of Victorian hymns! The words were written by by Francis Stanfield and the tune Stanfield by John Richardson, a Roman Catholic chorister and musician about whom little else is known. He was probably a musician at Westminster Cathedral. It is thought that the hymn and tune were first published about 1858.

The shorter version of the hymn is provided here, with the two missing (more Catholic) stanzas shown below.

[1] There is a land of peace and love,
where troubled hearts find rest.
No gloom, no storm, nor lonely night
can ever dim th’eternal light
of that bright home above.

[3] No sorrow e’er can reach that shore,
and there no tear shall fall;
earth’s glories all shall pass away,
lost in the light of endless day,
and grief shall be no more.

[4] And oh! when on our raptured gaze
shall break the sight of God,
then shall our harboured spirits rest,
wrapt in the vision of the blessed
mid songs of ceaseless praise.

[6] Then shall life’s fevered toil be o’er,
and restless hearts be calm;
then shall these anxious yearnings cease,
and troubled spirits rest in peace
on Heaven’s eternal shore.

[7] Fear not, though still earth’s darkening gloom
o’ershadows life’s lone path;
Jesus has shown the heavenward way
which leads to realms of endless day,
to our dear Father’s home.

Stanfield

[2] Angels and sainted throngs are there
circling the Throne of God;
crowned with twelve stars, a Virgin Queen
in the pure light of God is seen
immaculate and fair.

[5] How sweet for wearied souls to rest
near to the Sacred Heart,
sheltered within Love’s sacred shrine,
resting at Jesus’ feet divine,
there to be ever blest.

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