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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

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



Sing-Along Hymns

Sir John Stainer (1840-1901)

He showed his musical talent at an early age. He could play Bach’s Fugue in E major on the organ at the age of seven. He became a chorister at St Paul’s cathedral at the age of ten and soon became the principal soloist. He was appointed organist at St Paul’s in 1872 but resigned in 1888 because of concerns about his eyesight. He died in Florence, but his body was returned to England to be buried at Holywell Cemetery in Oxford.

Stainer’s best-known work is The Crucifixion, composed in 1887, although it is not as popular today as it was in his lifetime. Two well-known hymn tunes are taken from it: Cross of Jesus (used in this collection for There’s a wideness in God’s mercy) and All for Jesus used for Scarce discerning aught before us.

(The words of the hymn All for Jesus are still in copyright as the author W J Sparrow Simpson lived 1859-1952.)

Other tunes by Stainer are Love Divine Love divine, all loves excelling and St Francis Xavier My God, I love Thee, not because....


Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost

This hymn was written in 1862 by Bishop Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885), the nephew of William Wordsworth. It is one of the eleven of his hymns that appeared in Hymns Ancient and Modern The setting here is for six of the original verses; the missing two are shown below.

The tune Charity was written by Stainer.

[1] Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,
Taught by Thee we covet most
Of Thy gifts of Pentecost
Holy, heavenly Love.

[4] Love is kind, and suffers long
Love is meek, and thinks no wrong,
Love than death itself more strong;
Therefore, give us Love.

[5] Prophecy will fade away,
Melting in the light of day,
Love will ever with us stay;
Therefore, give us Love.

[6] Faith will vanish into sight;
Hope be emptied in delight;
Love in heaven will shine more bright;
Therefore, give us Love.

[7] Faith and Hope and Love we see
Joining hand in hand agree;
But the greatest of the three,
And the best, is Love.

[8] From the overshadowing
Of Thy gold and silver wing
Shed on us, who to Thee sing,
Holy, heavenly Love.


[2] Faith, that mountains could remove,
Tongues of earth or heaven above,
Knowledge—all things—empty prove,
Without heavenly Love.

[3] Though I as a martyr bleed,
Give my goods the poor to feed,
All is vain—if Love I need;
Therefore, give us Love.

Holy Father, cheer our way

The words were written by Revd Richard Hayes Robinson (1842-1892), an Anglican clergyman born in Dublin. The hymn was written in 1869 for the parish of Upper Norwood while he was curate at nearby Penge (possibly in the same parish at that date).

That same year he was appointed as Minister to the Octagon Chapel, Bath “without cure of souls”. This chapel had been built in 1767 and had been a fashionable church for the likes of Jane Austen to attend while visiting Bath. The astronomer William Herschel was the first organist. However, as the chapel was leasehold, it was never consecrated. It fell out of use in the 1890s and became an antique shop.

The tune Vesper is by Stainer.

Holy Father, cheer our way
with thy love’s perpetual ray;
grant us every closing day
light at evening time.

Holy Saviour, calm our fears
when earth’s brightness disappears;
grant us in our latter years
light at evening time.

Holy Spirit, be thou nigh
when in mortal pains we lie;
grant us, as we come to die,
light at evening time.

Holy, blessèd Trinity,
darkness is not dark with thee;
those thou keepest always see
light at evening time.


Lord Jesus, think on me

The original words were written by Synesius of Cyrene, a Greek bishop of Ptolemais in ancient Libya. He was born about 373 and is thought to have died about 414. He was a married man when called upon to become a bishop and hesitated for some time before accepting the post. During his time as bishop three of his sons died and the region was invaded by the Libyans, who led him into exile. He wrote nine or ten hymns, of which this is the only one used nowadays. He also wrote an essay on making an astrolabe (which survived) and a book on dog breeding (which is lost).

The words were translated from Greek by Revd Allen William Chatfield (1808-1896) who was ordained in 1832. He was appointed Vicar of Much Marcle, Herefordshire, in 1847 and was still the Vicar there when he died nearly 50 years later. He published Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets in 1876, which included this hymn.

The tune is St Paul’s by Stainer, published in 1875.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
and purge away my sin;
from earthborn passions set me free,
and make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
with care and woe opprest;
let me Thy loving servant be,
and taste Thy promised rest.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
Amid the battle’s strife;
In all my pain and misery
Be thou my health and life.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
Nor let me go astray;
through darkness and perplexity
point Thou the heavenly way.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
When flows the tempest high:
When on doth rush the enemy
O Saviour, be thou nigh.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
That, when the flood is past,
I may the eternal brightness see,
and share Thy joy at last.

St Paul’s

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: 02 March 2021