The Foundling Hospital in London was founded in 1739 by the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram. It was a children’s home established for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children.” The word “hospital” was used in a more general sense than it is today, simply indicating the institution’s “hospitality” to those less fortunate.
The Foundling Hospital grew to become a very fashionable charity, and it was supported by many noted figures of the day in high society and the arts. In May 1749, the composer George Frederic Handel held a benefit concert in the Hospital chapel to raise funds for the charity, performing his specially composed choral piece, the Foundling Hospital Anthem. The work included the Hallelujah chorus from the recently composed oratorio, Messiah. The musical service, which was originally sung by the blind children only, was made fashionable by the generosity of Handel.
These two hymns are from Psalms, Hymns and Anthems of the Foundling Hospital, often abbreviated to the Foundling Collection.
The first two verses of this hymn are from the Foundling Collection of 1796 by an unknown author. The third verse was written by Edward Osler (1798-1863). He was educated for the medical profession, first at Falmouth, and then at Guy's Hospital, London. From 1819 to 1836 he was house surgeon at the Swansea Infirmary. He then moved to London, and devoted himself to literary pursuits. For some time he was associated with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He wrote a number of hymns, but this third verse is his most enduring contribution to hymnody.
The tune Austria was composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809),who began his musical career as a choirboy in St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna. He did write a few other hymn tunes, but they are not often used these days.
PRAISE the Lord! ye heavens, adore him;
Praise him, angels, in the height;
Sun and moon, rejoice before him,
Praise him, all ye stars and light:
Praise the Lord! for he has spoken,
Worlds his mighty voice obeyed;
Laws, which never shall be broken,
For their guidance has he made.
Praise the Lord! for he is glorious;
Never shall his promise fail;
God has made his saints victorious.
Sin and death shall not prevail.
Praise the God of our salvation;
Hosts on high, his power proclaim;
Heaven and earth, and all creation,
Laud and magnify his name!
Worship, honour, glory, blessing,
Lord, we offer to thy name;
Young and old, thy praise expressing,
Join their Saviour to proclaim.
As the saints in heaven adore thee,
We would bow before thy throne;
As thine angels serve before thee,
So on earth thy will be done.
The words of this hymn were published in the Foundling Collection of 1774.
The tune Seirkeiran was written by the Right Reverend Edwin Owen (1910–2005). He was the Church of Ireland Bishop of Killaloe and Clonfert 1972–1976 and (after a reorganisation) Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe 1976–1981.
Spirit of mercy, truth, and love,
O shed thine influence from above,
and still from age to age convey
the wonders of this sacred day.
In every clime, by every tongue,
be God’s surpassing glory sung;
let all the listening earth be taught
the acts our great Redeemer wrought.
Unfailing comfort, heavenly guide,
still o’er thy holy church preside;
still let us all thy blessings prove,
Spirit of mercy, truth, and 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.
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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