He was born at Wellington in Shropshire and became organist at his father’s church in Olney, Buckinghamshire at the age of nine.
He also trained as a lawyer, but became a full-time musician from 1844.
He was chosen by Felix Mendelssohn to play the organ at the first performance of Elijah in Birmingham in 1846.
Gauntlett is said to have composed over a thousand hymn tunes, most of which have been forgotten. Apart from the ones presented here, ones that have been remembered include St Albinus Jesus lives, thy terrors now, University College Oft in danger, oft in woe and Irby Once in Royal David’s city.
The words were written by Simon Browne (1680-1732), a dissenting minister and theologian from Shepton Mallet, Somerset. In 1723 he killed a highwayman in self-defence during a violent struggle. A short time later his wife and son died. The depression brought on by these misfortunes led him to abandon his ministry by the end of that year. This is the only hymn of his in regular use today.
There have been many changes to the words over the years. The version originally published in Browne's Hymns & Spiritual Songs of 1720 are shown below.
The tune Hawkhurst was written by Gauntlett and published in 1874. It is the tune most associated with the hymn in UK.
We have also provided a modern tune Dunedin by Thomas Vernon Griffiths (1894-1985). He was music master at King Edward Technical College, Dunedin in the 1930s. He was born in West Kirby. His father, Revd John Herbert Griffiths was ordained in 1900 and was an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Norwich. Thomas Vernon was wounded in WW1 while serving as an officer in the Sherwood Foresters. He studied the organ at Cambridge University and became a schoolteacher. He emigrated to New Zealand at the end of 1926 (he had converted to Roman Catholicism, which had not gone down well with his family). He was music master at King Edward Technical College, Dunedin in the 1930s He was made an OBE in the 1957 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly Dove,
with light and comfort from above;
be thou our guardian, thou our guide,
o’er every thought and step preside.
The light of truth to us display,
and make us know and choose Thy way;
plant holy fear in every heart,
that we from God may ne’er depart.
Lead us to Christ, the living Way,
nor let us from our shepherd stray;
lead us to holiness, the road
which brings us to our home in God.
Lead us to heaven, that we may share
fulness of joy forever there;
lead us to God, the heart’s true rest,
to dwell with Him, for ever blest.
Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove,
my sinful maladies remove;
be Thou my light, be Thou my guide,
o'er every thought and step preside.
The light of truth to me display,
that I may know and chuse my way;
plant holy fear within mine heart,
that I from God may ne'er depart.
Conduct me safe, conduct me far
from every sin and hurtful snare;
lead me to God, my final rest,
in His enjoyment to be blest.
Lead me to Christ, the living way,
nor let me from his pastures stray;
lead me to heav'n, the seat of bliss,
where pleasure in perfection is.
Lead me to holiness, the road
that I must take to dwell with God;
lead to Thy word, that rules must give,
and sure directions how to live.
Lead me to means of grace, where I
may own my wants, and seek supply;
lead to Thyself, the spring from whence
to fetch all quick'ning influence.
Thus I, conducted still by Thee,
of God a child beloved shall be;
here to His family pertain,
hereafter with Him ever reign.
The Latin hymn Chorus novae Jerusalem was written by Fulbert of Chartres (c970-1028). He was the Bishop of Chartres from 1006 to 1028 and a teacher at the Cathedral school there. He was never officially canonised but but permission was granted by Rome to celebrate his day (10 April) in Chartres and Poitiers.
Chartres Cathedral burned down in 1020 and Fulbert devoted his energies to raising funds for its rebuilding; this was completed in 1037, nine years after his death. However, in 1194 the cathedral was again almost completely destroyed by fire; only the crypt, some of the west façade and two towers remained. The crypt has been incorporated into all subsequent reconstructions including the Gothic-style cathedral that we can see today.
The hymn is specifically about Easter, but can also be sung in “Ordinary Time”.
This Victorian version of the hymn was translated into English by Robert Campbell (1814-1868) and published in 1850. He was a Scottish lawyer who began a series of translations of Latin hymns in 1848. There had been an earlier translation by John Mason Neale which was more true to the original Latin text and metre, but the original metre does not fit the familiar tune. Neale's version is shown below.
Campbell also translated At the Lamb's high feast we sing from Latin and We plough the fields and scatter from German.
The term “New Jerusalem” in the Old Testament refers to a city centred on the re-built Third Temple prophesied by Ezekiel for the time when the Messiah arrived. For Christians it refers to the Church – the body of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven, not to a physical place built by human beings. The “Lion of Judah” is, according to the Torah, the tribe consisting of the descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. The Lion of Judah was used as a Jewish symbol for many years, and as Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, in 1950 it was included in the Emblem of Jerusalem. In the Book of Revelation, the term represents Jesus. In The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis, Asian the Lion represents Jesus.
The tune St Fulbert was written by Gauntlett
Ye choirs of new Jerusalem,
your sweetest notes employ,
the paschal victory to hymn
in strains of holy joy.
How Judah’s Lion burst his chains,
and crushed the serpent’s head;
and brought with Him, from death’s domains,
the long-imprisoned dead.
From hell’s devouring jaws the prey
alone our Leader bore;
His ransomed hosts pursue their way
where He hath gone before.
Triumphant in His glory now
His sceptre ruleth all,
earth, heaven, and hell before Him bow,
and at His footstool fall.
While joyful thus His praise we sing,
His mercy we implore,
into His palace bright to bring
and keep us evermore.
All glory to the Father be,
all glory to the Son,
all glory, Holy Ghost, to thee,
while endless ages run.
Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem!
To sweet new strains attune your theme;
the while we keep, from care releas'd,
with sober joy our Paschal Feast:
When Christ, Who spake the Dragon's doom,
rose, Victor-Lion, from the Tomb:
that while with living voice He cries,
the dead of other years might rise.
Engorg'd in former years, their prey
must Death and Hell restore to-day:
and many a captive soul, set free,
with Jesus leaves captivity.
Right gloriously He triumphs now,
worthy to Whom should all things bow;
and, joining heaven and earth again,
links in one commonweal the twain.
And we, as these His deeds we sing,
His suppliant soldiers, pray our King,
that in His Palace, bright and vast,
we may keep watch and ward at last.
Long as unending ages run,
to God the Father laud be done;
to God the Son our equal praise,
and God the Holy Ghost, we raise.
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.
The picture of the chalice is symbolic of:
"A joyful image of a Eucharistic community which knows how to celebrate God's goodness to us but also how to reach out to the community and connect with those in need, in pain, in difficulty, who feel lost or neglected, or that they don't belong."
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