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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, SK10 5EG
07895 363 038

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Sing-Along Hymns

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)

He was born in Bornemouth and initially followed a career at Lloyd's of London following the wishes of his family, but continued his musical studies. His first major musical works were published in 1880.

He wrote a number of hymn tunes including Repton Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Rustington King of Saints, to whom the number, Laudate Dominum O praise ye the Lord, as well as the two included here.

In an eerie echo of our present time, he contracted the “Spanish” flu in the earlier global pandemic and died in the autumn of 1918.

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And did those feet in ancient time

The poem was written by by William Blake and appeared in the preface to his epic Milton: A Poem in Two Books, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. Today it is best known as the hymn "Jerusalem", with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. The poem was supposedly inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant, travelled to what is now England and visited Glastonbury during his unknown years. Most scholars reject the historical authenticity of this story out of hand. In the most common interpretation of the poem, Blake implies that a visit by Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the "dark Satanic Mills" of the Industrial Revolution. Blake's poem asks four questions rather than asserting the historical truth of Christ's visit. Thus the poem merely wonders if there had been a divine visit, when there was briefly heaven in England. The second verse is interpreted as an exhortation to create an ideal society in England, whether or not there was a divine visit.

Some clergy in the Church of England have said that the song is not technically a hymn as it is not a prayer to God; consequently, it is not sung in some churches in England.

Jerusalem is one of the best-known hymns in UK, being sung at many locations other than churches. Perhaps that is why it is sometimes chosen as a wedding hymn, even though the words are not particularly matrimonial.

And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
in England's green and pleasant land.

Jerusalem

O word of pity, for our pardon pleading

A Victorian hymn first published in 1897, based on the words of Jesus on the cross. Although clearly relevant to Passiontide, the hymn can be a prayer at times when you need “a word of comfort…, a word of hope”.

The words were written by Ada Rundall Greenaway (1861-1937). She was born in India, the daughter of General Thomas Greenaway, but was brought to England as a child and lived at Guildford. She never married. Six of her hymns (including this one) featured in 1904 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern but they all seem to have dropped out of fashion now (some of them would be considered rather militaristic these days).

The chorale-style tune Intercessor was written for this hymn by Parry.

O word of pity, for our pardon pleading,
Breathed in the hour of loneliness and pain;
O voice, which through the ages interceding,
Calls us to fellowship with God again.

O word of comfort, through the silence stealing,
As the dread act of sacrifice began;
O infinite compassion, still revealing
The infinite forgiveness won for man.

O word of hope to raise us nearer Heaven,
When courage fails us and when faith is dim;
The souls for whom Christ prays to Christ are given,
To find their pardon and their joy in Him.

O Intercessor, who art ever living
To plead for dying souls that they may live,
Teach us to know our sin which needs forgiving,
Teach us to know the love which can forgive.
Amen

Intercessor

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: 16 February 2021