By the age of 18, Monk was organist at St Peter's Church, Eaton Square (Central London). He held posts at two other churches before becoming choirmaster at King's College London in 1847. In 1852, he became organist and choirmaster at St Matthias's Church, Stoke Newington. By now, Monk was also arranging hymns, as well as writing his own hymn melodies. In 1857, his talents as composer, arranger, and editor were recognised when he was appointed the musical editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, a volume first published in 1861, containing 273 hymns. After supplements were added it became one of the best-selling hymn books ever produced. It was for this publication that Monk supplied his famous Eventide tune associated with the hymn Abide with me.
He also wrote the tune Merton Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding.
He was not (as far as we know) related to pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (1917-1982). However, the latter included an instrumental version of Abide with me with his jazz septet as the first track of the 1957 album Monk’s Music.
It is not certain who wrote the original text, possibly as early as the 15th century. It was translated by J M Neale, but may have been amended by the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern of which W H Monk was the editor.
The tune Oriel was composed by Caspar Ett (1788-1847), who was born in Bavaria and spent most of his life in Munich. It is thought that W H Monk provided the harmony that was published in Hymns Ancient and Modern
To the Name of our salvation
Honour, worship, thanks, we pay;
Which, for many a generation
Hid in God's foreknowledge lay,
But with holy exultation
We may sing aloud to-day.
Jesus is the Name we treasure,
Name beyond what words can tell;
Name of gladness, Name of pleasure,
Ear and heart delighting well;
Name of sweetness, passing measure,
Saving us from sin and hell.
'Tis the Name for adoration;
'Tis the Name of Victory;
'Tis the Name for meditation
In this vale of misery;
'Tis the Name for veneration
By the citizens on high.
Jesus is the Name exalted
Over every other name;
In this Name, whene'er assaulted,
We can put our foes to shame;
Strength to them who else had halted,
Eyes to blind, and feet to lame.
Jesus, we Thy Name adoring,
Long to see Thee as Thou art;
Of Thy clemency imploring
So to write it in our heart,
That hereafter, upwards soaring,
We with angels may have part.
This hymn was first published in Neuvennehrtes Gesangbilchlein (1719) as a 20-stanza hymn, the only known hymn by Lutheran cleric and school rector Theobald Heinrich Schenck (1656-1727). Wer sind die vor Gottes Throne (Who are these before God’s throne) was translated by Francis Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897). I don’t know how many of the verses of this hymn she translated, but five of them are presented here.
She was among the important English translators of the nineteenth century. Her 1841 publication, Sacred Hymns from the German, contained 49 translations, together with the original German lyrics and notes on the German authors. Her translations include Jesus live, thy terrors now and Sleepers, wake! the watch cry pealeth.
The words are paired with the chorale tune Zeuch mich, zeuch mich which first appeared in Geistreiches Gesangbuch (Darmstadt, 1698). The hymn and tune first appeared together in 1892. This arrangement is by W H Monk with a modern descant arrangement for the last verse.
Who are these like stars appearing,
these before God’s throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia! Hark, they sing,
praising loud their heavenly King.
Who are these of dazzling brightness,
these in God’s own truth arrayed,
clad in robes of purest whiteness,
robes whose lustre ne’er shall fade,
ne’er be touched by time’s rude hand?
Whence come all this glorious band?
These are they who have contended
for their Saviour’s honour long,
wrestling on till life was ended,
following not the sinful throng;
these, who well the fight sustained,
triumph through the Lamb have gained.
These are they whose hearts were riven,
sore with woe and anguish tried,
who in prayer full oft have striven
with the God they glorified;
now, their painful conflict o’er,
God has bid them weep no more.
These, like priests, have watched and waited,
offering up to Christ their will;
soul and body consecrated,
day and night to serve him still:
now in God’s most holy place
blest they stand before his face.
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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