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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

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



Sing-Along Hymns

Processional hymns

Some hymnals include "Hymns suitable for use in Processions". Examples in older hymn-books include Onward Christan Soldiers, Forward be our watchword and Brightly gleams our banner.

I don't think I ever sang any of these hymns in procession, in fact I don't think I ever sang either of the last two at all. But the first two below I do remember singing while parading through the streets of Lichfield or somewhere in cassock and surplice, among many other choirs similarly attired, back in the 1960s.

The third hymn below seems to have been somewhat forgotten in UK, which is rather a shame. (It shoud not be confused with Rejoice, the Lord is King.)

Lift high the Cross

The words were written by the Very Reverend George William Kitchin in 1887, when he was Dean of Winchester. He was ordained deacon in 1852 and priested in 1859. He was Chaplain to the Bishop of Chester 1871-72. He was appointed Dean of Winchester in 1883 and Dean of Durham in 1894. The words were later revised by Revd Michael Robert Newbolt (1874-1956) in 1916 when the hymn first appeared in a supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern. However, the (perhaps rather dated) verses presented here are thought to be Kitchin’s original version. (Michael Newbolt was later made a Canon of Chester Cathedral.)

Five of the eleven verses are included in the setting here. The missing verses are shown below (but without the refrain).

The tune Crucifer is by Sydney Nicholson. The tune was written for this hymn in 1916 for Hymns Ancient and Modern, of which Nicholson was then the editor. (It is not known what tune was used for this hymn prior to this date.)

Nicholson also wrote Chislehurst Hail the day that sees Him rise.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
’til all the world adores his sacred name.

[1] Come, brethren, follow where our captain trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
’til all the world adores his sacred name.

[2] Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
’til all the world adores his sacred name.

[6] From north and south, from east and west they raise
in growing unison their song of praise.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
’til all the world adores his sacred name.

[8] Let every race and every language tell
of him who saves our souls from death and hell.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
’til all the world adores his sacred name.

[9] From farthest regions let them homage bring
and on his cross adore their Saviour King.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
’til all the world adores his sacred name.


[3] Each new-born soldier of the Crucified
bears on his brow the seal of him who died.

[4] This is the sign which Satan’s legions fear
and angels veil their faces to revere:

[5] Saved by the cross whereon their Lord was slain
the sons of Adam their lost home regain.

[7] O Lord once lifted on the glorious tree
as thou hast promised, draw us unto thee.

[10] Set up thy throne, that earth’s despair may cease
beneath the shadow of its healing peace.

[11] For thy blest cross which doth for all atone
creation’s praises rise before thy throne:

Thy hand, O God, has guided

The hymn was written by Revd Edward Hayes Plumptre (1821–1891). He was ordained in 1847 and joined the staff of King’s College, London for twenty-one years as chaplain and professor. He took a leading part in promoting the higher education of women. During this time he was also assistant preacher at Lincoln’s Inn and prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral. He later was appointed as Rector of a couple of parishes before being made Dean of Wells in 1881. He wrote a number of hymns, but this is the most familiar these days (in UK, at least).

Five of the six verses are included in this setting, the missing verse is shown below.

The tune is Thornbury by Basil Harwood (1859-1949), the organist at Ely Cathedral 1887-1892 and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford 1892-1909. As well as composing choral pieces for choir festivals and some challenging organ works, he wrote a number of hymn-tunes including Luckington Let all the world in every corner sing).

[1] Thy hand, O God, has guided
thy flock, from age to age;
the wondrous tale is written,
full clear, on every page;
our fathers owned thy goodness,
and we their deeds record;
and both of this bear witness:
one Church, one faith, one Lord.

[2] Thy heralds brought glad tidings
to greatest, as to least;
they bade men rise and hasten
to share the great King’s feast;
and this was all their teaching,
in every deed and word,
to all alike proclaiming
one Church, one faith, one Lord.

[4] Through many a day of darkness,
through many a scene of strife,
the faithful few fought bravely,
to guard the nation’s life.
Their Gospel of redemption,
sin pardoned, man restored,
was all in this enfolded:
one Church, one faith, one Lord.

[5] And we, shall we be faithless?
Shall hearts fail, hands hang down?
Shall we evade the conflict,
and cast away our crown?
Not so: in God’s deep counsels
some better thing is stored;
we will maintain, unflinching,
one church, one faith, one Lord.

[6] Thy mercy will not fail us,
nor leave thy work undone;
with thy right hand to help us,
the victory shall be won;
and then, by men and angels,
thy name shall be adored,
and this shall be their anthem:
one Church, one faith, one Lord.


[3] When shadows thick were falling,
and all seemed sunk in night,
thou, Lord, didst send thy servants,
thy chosen sons of light.
On them and on thy people
thy plenteous grace was poured,
and this was still their message,
one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Rejoice ye pure in heart

The hymn was also written by Revd Edward Hayes Plumptre. It seems suitable for whenever we are able to sing lustily together again as a congregation in church.

This hymn was written for a festival at Peterborough Cathedral in 1865 (although at that time it was probably sung to Peterborough by W H Monk – not one of his best tunes!). The eleven verses allowed enough time for all the choirs to process into the cathedral. Six of the verses seem rather old-fashioned today, so they are not included in this setting of the music, but the omitted verses are shown below.

The hymn as originally written did not have the refrain. This was added by the composer of the tune Marion, Arthur Henry Messiter (1834-1916). He was born in Somerset, and emigrated to USA in 1863. He was the organist of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York for 31 years. The tune was written for this hymn in 1883, and even with only five verses, still has a processional character.

[1] Rejoice ye pure in heart;
rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
your glorious banner wave on high,
the cross of Christ your King.
Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

[4] With all the angel choirs,
with all the saints of earth,
pour out the strains of joy and bliss,
true rapture, noblest mirth.
Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

[5] Your clear hosannas raise;
and alleluias loud;
whilst answering echoes upward float,
like wreaths of incense cloud.
Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

[10] Then on, ye pure in heart!
rejoice, give thanks and sing!
your glorious banner wave on high,
the cross of Christ your King.
Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

[11] Praise Him who reigns on high,
the Lord whom we adore,
the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
One God forevermore.
Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.


[2] Bright youth and snow-crowned age,
strong men and maidens meek,
raise high your free, exultant song,
God’s wondrous praises speak.

[3] Yes onward, onward still
with hymn, and chant and song,
through gate, and porch and columned aisle,
the hallowed pathways throng

[6] With voice as full and strong
as ocean’s surging praise,
send forth the hymns our fathers loved,
the psalms of ancient days

[7] Yes, on through life’s long path,
still chanting as ye go;
from youth to age, by night and day,
in gladness and in woe.

[8] Still lift your standard high,
still march in firm array,
as warriors through the darkness toil,
till dawns the golden day.

[9] At last the march shall end;
the wearied ones shall rest;
the pilgrims find their heavenly home,
Jerusalem the blessed.

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: 20 March 2021