He was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumultuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship.
However, following a near-drowning, and influenced by the piety of his future wife he gave up the slave trade in 1754 and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist.
He was ordained in the Church of England in 1764 and wrote a number of hymns, including Glorious things of Thee are spoken as well as the four provided here.
(Scroll down to see the other hymms)
The words provided here are from John Newton’s original poem. Most of the verses are familiar. The tune chosen is not that Appalachian folk-tune so often badly sung with exaggerated pathos, but is Arlington by Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778). Arne is best known for his patriotic song Rule, Britannia!. He was a Roman Catholic, so generally did not write tunes for the Church of England.
The melody of the tune Helmsley has sometimes been attributed to him.
In this tune there is generally one note used for each syllable, except for two notes on the last syllable of the second line.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we’ve first begun.
A hymn to St Mary Magdalen, who is commemorated on 22 July.
The words are by John Newton and were published in Olney Hymns 1779.
The tune Martyn was written by Simeon Butler Marsh (1798-1875) in 1834. He was a gifted New York musician and teacher who began singing in choir at age seven, and started studying music when he was sixteen. Just three years later he was teaching in the local singing schools. In 1837 became the publisher of the New York paper The Intelligencer, and later founded founded the Sherburne News. He taught choirs and children for almost thirty years in and around the Albany area, and served as a Sunday school superintendent.
Mary to her Saviour’s tomb
Hasted at the early dawn;
Spice she brought, and sweet perfume,
But the Lord, the Loved, was gone.
For awhile she weeping stood,
Struck with sorrow and surprise;
Shedding tears, a plenteous flood,
For her heart supplied her eyes.
Jesus, who is always near,
Though too often unperceived
Came, His drooping child to cheer,
And inquired, Why she grieved?
Though at first she knew Him not,
When He called her by her name,
Then her griefs were all forgot,
For she found He was the same.
Grief and sighing quickly fled
When she heard His welcome voice;
Just before she thought Him dead,
Now He bids her heart rejoice:
What a change His Word can make,
Turning darkness into day!
You who weep for Jesus’ sake;
He will wipe your tears away.
He who came to comfort her,
When she thought her all was lost;
Will for your relief appear,
Though you now are tempest-tossed:
On His Word your burden cast,
On His love your thoughts employ;
Weeping for awhile may last,
But the morning brings the joy.
It seems that the original hymn began "Dear Shepherd..." There were more verses in the original hymn and the original verse 5 has been altered, the missing/original ones are shown below.
(Perhaps the original final verse should be re-instated?)
The tune is Oswald’s Tree – most appropriate for our parish! It was written by Sir Henry Walford Davies.
 Great Shepherd of thy people, hear,
thy presence now display;
as thou hast given a place for prayer,
so give us hearts to pray.
 Within these walls let holy peace
and love and concord dwell;
here give the troubled conscience ease,
the wounded spirit heal.
 May we in faith receive thy word
in faith present our prayers,
and in the presence of our Lord
unbosom all our cares.
 The hearing ear, the seeing eye,
the contrite heart, bestow;
and shine upon us from on high,
that we in grace may grow.
 O Lord, our languid souls inspire,
For here, we trust, thou art!
Send down a coal of heav’nly fire,
To warm each waiting heart.
 Show us some token of Thy love,
Our fainting hope to raise;
And pour Thy blessings from above,
That we may render praise.
 The feeling heart, the melting eye,
The humble mind bestow;
And shine upon us from on high,
To make our graces grow!
 And may the gospel’s joyful sound,
Enforced by mighty grace,
Awaken many sinners round,
To come and fill the place.
The hymn was first published in 1779. The tune St Peter with which it is usually associated was written some 20 years later and was not published with the hymn until the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.
Not much is known about the early life of the composer of St Peter, Alexander Robert Reinagle (1799-1877). He was born in Brighton and lived all his life in England. He wrote and published a number of hymn tunes, but this is the only one in regular use today.
His more famous uncle and namesake Alexander Robert Reinagle (1756-1809) was born at Portsmouth and met Mozart in 1764. He emigrated to USA in 1786 and became a professional musician, although much of his theatre music was lost when the Chestnut Street Theater (Philadelphia) burned down in 1820.
The original third verse of the hymn is not included in modern hymnals.
 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
and drives away his fear.
 It makes the wounded spirit whole,
and calms the troubled breast;
’tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary rest.
 Dear Name! the rock on which I build,
my shield and hiding place,
my never-failing treasury filled
with boundless stores of grace.
 Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
my Prophet, Priest, and King,
my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.
 Weak is the effort of my heart,
and cold my warmest thought;
but when I see thee as thou art,
I’ll praise thee as I ought.
 Till then I would thy love proclaim
with every fleeting breath;
and may the music of thy name
refresh my soul in death.
 By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.
The first two verses were written by Revd John Newton – the last verse is a recent addition.
The tune Gott des Himmels (God of Heaven) was originally written by Heinrich Albert (1604-1651) sometime organist of Konigsberg Cathedral. The tune was adapted (ie simplified) by Charles Steggall (1826-1905), a Londoner who composed several hymn tunes still familiar today. In the arrangement here, the first verse is accompanied by Steggall’s version, while the last two verses are provided with the original melody and a harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach.
May the grace of Christ our Saviour,
And the father’s boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit’s favour,
Rest upon us from above.
Thus may we abide in union
With each other and the Lord,
And possess in sweet communion,
Joys which earth cannot afford.
To the God whose wisdom made us,
To the Son who set us free,
To the sanctifying Spirit,
Glory, endless glory, be!
Gott des Himmels
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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