James Montgomery wrote a number of hymns that are till used today. His hymns include:
Angels from the realms of glory
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire
Songs of praise the angels sang
in addition to God of Nature and of grace.
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The author of Fairest Lord Jesus is unknown.
It is thought that the hymn may have originated in the Jesuit order. It originally had five verses, beginning with Jesus shining fairer than Creation, then the Sun and Moon, the Forests and Woodlands, Heaven and Earth, and concluding with an invocation of the sacrament of communion. The words were printed for the first time in 1677 as Schönster Herr Jesu (Most beautiful Lord Jesus). The English translations provided here shows a three verse translation of the original, to which a 19th century verse was added. The last verse doesn’t have much to do with the beauty of nature, so there are only three verses in the musical arrangement. The missing verse is shown below.
The tune Saint Elizabeth was originally a Silesian folk song and was used in Franz Liszt’s oratorio Legend of Saint Elizabeth, from where the name of the tune is taken. There the tune forms part of the Crusader’s March, but there is no evidence that the tune existed at the time of the Crusades.
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Thee will I cherish, thee will I honour,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fair is the moonlight,
and all the twinkling, starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heav’n can boast.
Beautiful Saviour! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honour, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.
The words were written by James Montgomery. Eight verses are provided - it seemed a shame to miss any of them out!
The tune Stracathro was written by Charles Hutcheson (1792-1860). He was a merchant in Glasgow, and a member of St. George’s parish church. Apparently he wrote a number of hymn tunes, but this seems tobe the only one found today. It was published in Christian Vespers 1832.
The God of nature and of grace
In all His works appears;
His goodness through the earth we trace,
His grandeur in the spheres.
Behold this fair and fertile globe,
By Him in wisdom planned:
’Twas He who girded, like a robe,
The ocean round the land.
Lift to the firmament your eye;
Thither His path pursue;
His glory, boundless in the sky,
O’erwhelms the wondering view.
He bows the heavens—the mountains stand
A highway for their God;
He walks amidst the desert land;
’Tis Eden where He trod.
The forests in His strength rejoice;
Hark! on the evening breeze,
As once of old, the Lord God’s voice
Is heard among the trees.
In every stream His bounty flows,
Diffusing joy and wealth;
In every breeze His Spirit blows,
The breath of life and health.
His blessings fall in plenteous showers
Upon the lap of earth,
That teems with foliage, fruits and flowers,
And rings with infant mirth.
If God hath made this world so fair,
Where sin and death abound,
How beautiful, beyond compare,
Will Paradise be found!
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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