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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, SK10 5EG
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Sing-Along Hymns

God the Redeemer

Here we put together two "English" hymns on this subject (and a Welsh hymn that shares a well-known tune).

It it is intriguing that the best-known hymn in English about the Redeemer has a Welsh tune, but the Welsh hymn that uses this tune has completely different words.

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Guide me, O thou great Jehovah

This well-known hymn is based on the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, using extracts from the book of Exodus chapters 13 to 17. It mentions manna (bread of heaven) and the water flowing from the rock that Moses struck with his staff (the crystal fountain). The “fiery, cloudy pillar” is the “pillar of fire” and the “pillar of cloud” that was said to precede and follow the children of Israel whenever they set off on their journeys.

It is also an allegory for the journey of a Christian through life on earth requiring the Redeemer’s guidance and ending at the gates of Heaven (the verge of Jordan) and also referring to the end of time (death of death and hell’s destruction). In some versions of the text the name “Redeemer” replaces the name “Jehovah”.

It was originally written in Welsh by William Williams (1717-1791) and had six verses. Although from a nonconformist family, William Williams was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England*, but was refused ordination to the priesthood because of his connection with Methodism. He became a minister in the Calvanistic Methodist of Wales instead. He is regarded as the premier Welsh hymn writer and is also known as Pantycelyn.

*In 1920, the Anglican Church in Wales was disestablished and is now known as the Church in Wales.

The English version of the hymn is based on a translation by Revd Peter Williams (1722-1796) which condensed the text into three verses. Peter Williams was a priest in the Church of England, but he also later became a Calvanistic Methodist. He was not related to William Williams.

The tune associated with the English version of the hymn is Cwm Rhondda, written by John Hughes (1873–1932). It was written in 1907.

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me now and evermore.
Feed me now and evermore.

Open thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream shall flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer
Be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to thee.
I will ever give to thee.

Cwm Rhondda

The Welsh version of the hymn (Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch, – Lord, Lead Me Through the Wilderness) is usually sung to the tune Capel y Ddôl. Here it is, together with the first verse to sing along with.

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch
Fi bererin gwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynwy’ nerth na bywyd
Fel yn gorwedd yn y bedd:
Hollalluog, hollalluog,
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.

Capel y Ddôl

Cwm Rhondda

Here is the Welsh hymn associated with this tune. An English version of the hymn is given below.

Wele’n sefyll rhwng y myrtwydd
Wrthrych teilwng o fy mryd;
Er o’r braidd ‘rwy’n Ei adnabod
Ef uwchlaw gwrthrychau’r byd:
Henffych fore! Henffych fore!
Caf ei weled fel y mae.
Caf ei weled fel y mae.

Rhosyn Saron yw Ei enw,
Gwyn a gwridog, hardd Ei bryd!
Ar ddeng mil y mae’n rhagori
O wrthddrychau penna’r byd ;
Ffrind pechadur! Ffrind pechadur!
Dyma’r llywydd ar y môr.
Dyma’r llywydd ar y môr.

Beth sydd imi mwy a wnelwyf
Ag eilunod gwael y llawr?
Tystio ‘r wyf nad yw eu cwmni
I’w gymharu a’m Iesu Mawr.
O, am aros! O, am aros!
Yn Ei gariad ddyddiau f’oes!
Yn Ei gariad ddyddiau f’oes!

Cwm Rhondda

Lo, between the myrtles standing,
One who merits well my love,
Though His worth I guess but dimly,
High all earthly things above;
Happy morning! Happy morning!
When at last I see Him clear!
When at last I see Him clear!

Rose of Sharon, so men name Him;
White and red his cheeks adorn;
Store untold of earthly treasure
Will His merit put to scorn
Friend of sinners! Friend of sinners!
He their pilot o’er the deep.
He their pilot o’er the deep.

What can weigh with me henceforward
All the idols of the earth?
One and all I here proclaim them,
Matched with Jesus, nothing worth;
O, to rest me! O, to rest me!
All my lifetime in His love!
All my lifetime in His love!

I know that my Redeemer lives

The words were written by Samuel Medley (1738-99). They are based on Job 19.25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth – the familiar lines from the King James Bible as used by Handel in Messiah.

Medley had been apprenticed to an oilman from the age of 14 in the city of London, but in 1755 he obtained his freedom on entering the Royal Navy, from which he was discharged after being wounded in the Battle of Lagos on 18 August 1759. He was he was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1768 and ministered at Liverpool from 1771. Many of his hymns were published in his lifetime in a variety of editions, and a further selection by his daughter after his death. As a result there are many different versions of this hymn to be found, some with eight verses.

The tune Church triumphant is by James William Elliott (1833-1915), who was organist at St Mark’s, Hamilton Terrace, Maida Vale for 36 years.

He should not be confused with Dr. James William Elliott (1874-1920), a physician from Rumford, Maine who went on to become an accomplished magician and was a friend of Harry Houdini.

I know that my Redeemer lives—
what joy the blessed assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
he lives, my everlasting head.

He lives, to bless me with his love;
he lives, to plead for me above;
he lives, my hungry soul to feed,
he lives, to help in time of need.

He lives, and grants me daily breath;
he lives, and I shall conquer death;
he lives, my mansion to prepare;
he lives, to lead me safely there.

He lives, all glory to his name;
he lives, my Saviour, still the same;
what joy the blessed assurance gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Church triumphant

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Samuel Medley

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: 05 March 2021