He was born at Nether Ettington, Warwickshire. He was educated at the Chapel Royal under the instruction of John Blow, and remained there until 1698. Two years after this departure, he became organist of St. Anne's Church, Soho and he became an organist and 'Gentleman extraordinary' at the Chapel Royal. In 1707, he took over the Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal post. The following year, Croft succeeded John Blow (who had lately died) as organist of Westminster Abbey. He composed works for the funeral of Queen Anne (1714) and for the coronation of King George I (1715).
He was an eminent composer of his era, which overlapped those of Bach and Handel.
Croft's Funeral Sentences were sung at George Frederic Handel's funeral in 1759, and have been included in every British state funeral since their publication. They were used at the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002.
A hymn for St Peter , who is commemorated (with St Paul) on 29 June.
The words were written by Revd William Walsham How.
The first two verses are based on the Matthew 16.13-18: When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The meaning of the name Peter, or Petrus in Latin, is “a rock”. Later, of course, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. And St John’s Gospel 21.15-17 tells us that Peter affirmed his love for his Lord three times when asked by the resurrected Jesus at the meal by the Sea of Tiberias. “Thrice fallen, thrice restored”, as verse three of the hymn puts it.
Early Christian tradition tells us that Peter was crucified in Rome soon after the Great Fire of Rome in the year 64. The Emperor Nero wanted the Christians to take the blame for the disastrous fire. The tradition says that he was crucified with his head towards the ground as he asserted that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. St Peter’s Basilica in Rome is supposedly built over his burial place – another reference to the Gospel story.
The melody and bass line of Croft’s 136th were composed by William Croft, probably in 1708 when he was organist of the Chapel Royal.
“Thou art the Christ, O Lord,
the Son of God, most high!”
Forever be adored
that Name in earth and sky.
In which, though mortal strength may fail,
The saints of God at last prevail!
Oh, surely he was blest,
with blessedness unpriced,
who taught of God, confessed
the Godhead in the Christ!
For of Thy Church, Lord, Thou didst own
Thy saint a true foundation-stone.
Thrice fallen, thrice restored,
the bitter lesson learnt,
that heart for Thee, O Lord,
with triple ardour burnt.
The cross he took he laid not down
until he grasped the martyr’s crown.
O bright triumphant faith!
O courage void of fears!
Oh love, most strong in death!
O penitential tears!
By these, Lord, keep us lest we fall,
and make us go where Thou shalt call.
The words were written by Robert Grant (1779-1838). He was born in India, the son of the Chairman of the Honourable East India Company (although in recent times, other adjectives have been used to describe it). In the UK, he was an MP for a number of constituencies from 1818 to 1832, after which he was appointed Governor of Bombay. He was the author of a volume of sacred poems, which was edited and published after his death. This volume included this, his best known hymn.
Psalm 104.1-7 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
The tune Hanover was composed by William Croft and published in 1708. Two modern descants are included in the arrangement here.
O WORSHIP the King, all glorious above; O tell of his might, O sing of his grace, The earth with its store of wonders untold, Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite? Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, O measureless might, ineffable love, Hanover
O gratefully sing his power and his love;
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise.
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
his chariots of wrath the deep thunder clouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
Almighty, thy power hath founded of old;
hath stablished it fast by a changeless decree,
and round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.
in thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail;
thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end.
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.
while angels delight to hymn thee above,
thy humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
with true adoration shall sing to thy praise.
O WORSHIP the King, all glorious above;
O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
O measureless might, ineffable love,
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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