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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

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

He was born in Scotland but eventually settled in Sheffield. He was raised in the Moravian Church and theologically trained there, so that his writings often reflect concern for humanitarian causes, such as the abolition of slavery and the exploitation of child chimney sweeps. He wrote over 600 hymns.

He failed to complete his schooling and was apprenticed to a baker in Mirfield, then to a store-keeper at Wath-upon-Dearne. After further efforts, including an unsuccessful attempt to launch a literary career in London, he moved north again to Sheffield in 1792 as an assistant to Joseph Gales, auctioneer, bookseller and printer of the Sheffield Register. In 1794, Gales left England to avoid political prosecution and Montgomery took the paper in hand, changing its name to the Sheffield Iris.

These were times of political repression and Montgomery was twice imprisoned on charges of sedition. The first occasion was in 1795, for printing a poem to celebrate the fall of the Bastille in revolutionary France. The second, in 1796, was for criticising a magistrate who had forcibly dispersed a political protest in Sheffield. Turning his experience of gaol to some profit, he afterwards published a pamphlet of poems written during his captivity: Prison Amusements (1797). His later prose account of the episode was published in 1840.

He also wrote Hail to the Lord’s Anointed amd Songs of praise the angels sang.

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Angels from the realms of glory

The original version of the hymn had eight verses. the setting here is for five of them – already quite a test of endurance! The missing verses are shown below. The hymn is based on the Nativity story as found in Luke 2:8-20 (shepherds) and Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 (sages).

The tune Iris is based on an old French or Flemish melody. The name of the tune was probably chosen because the hymn words were first published in 1818 in Montgomery's newspaper, the Sheffield Iris.

[1] Angels from the realms of glory,
wing your flight o’er all the earth;
ye who sang creation’s story
now proclaim Messiah’s birth.
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

[2] Shepherds, in the field abiding,
watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing;
yonder shines the infant light
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

[3] Sages, leave your contemplations,
brighter visions beam afar;
seek the great desire of nations;
ye have seen His natal star.
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

[4] Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

[6] Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

Iris

[5] Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

[7] All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.
Come and worship Christ, the new-born King,
come and worship,
worship Christ, the new-born King.

[8] Lord of Heaven, we adore Thee,
God the Father, God the Son,
God the Spirit, One in glory,
On the same eternal throne.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Lord of Heaven, Three in One.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire

The simplicity of this hymn and its tune contrast with those of Angels from the realms of glory. The tune is one of about a hundred written by William Tans’ur (or Tanzer) (1706–1783). He was an English hymn-writer, composer, and teacher of music. The melody was included in his publication A Compleat Melody, or The Harmony of Sion of 1734-5. The tune is now known as Bangor. It is not known who wrote the harmony used here.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
uttered or unexpressed;
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
the falling of a tear;
the upward glancing of an eye,
when none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
that infant lips can try,
prayer the sublimest strains that reach
the Majesty on high.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
returning from his ways;
while angels in their songs rejoice,
and cry, ‘Behold, he prays!

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
the Christian’s native air,
his watchword at the gates of death:
he enters heaven with prayer.

The saints in prayer appear as one,
in word and deed and mind;
while with the Father and the Son
sweet fellowship they find.

O Thou by whom we come to God,
the Life, the Truth, the Way,
the path of prayer thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray!

Bangor

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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