Two more canticles from Revelation

Marriage of the Lamb from wikipedia
The Marriage of the Lamb, courtesy of Wikipedia

Introduction

There are seven Canticles from Revelation in Common Worship Daily Prayer (CWDP). This collection already has  five of them,

Worthy are you, (CWDP 69) – in download version of Book 6.
Great and Wonderful (CWDP 71) – see Two new Canticles blogged 14th Nov 2016.
Salvation Belongs to the Lamb (CWDP 72) – see This Completes the Canticles in the Black Book blogged 30th May 2017.
New Jerusalem (CWDP 73) – in download version of Book 6.
Behold I’m coming soon (CWDP 75) – in download version of Book 6.

That leaves two outstanding.

All of these are not just suitable for the occasions to which CWDP allocates them. They make good general hymns of praise for use any day of the year.

I make no apologies for using the same illustration as for The Marriage Feast of the Lamb on 30th May last. As a painting, it is one of the all time greats. It also links this post nicely to one of the other canticles from Revelation in this collection.

I saw a mighty Multitude

This is Canticle 70 in CWDP, Revelation 7: 9,10,14b-17 where it is called A song of the Redeemed, which is a good description of what the Canticle is about. St John is shown a mighty multitude that no one could number, praising God and the Lamb upon the throne. The version here is not a selection but includes  the whole of Rev 7: 9–17.

The Words

For my first attempt to set this exhilarating vision into singable form I had chosen a tune that was in an unusual metre which turned out to be too difficult to write to.  So this is in Double Common Metre, which as it happens, I think suits the subject matter rather well.

As with the other canticles in CWDP from Revelation, this ends with the characteristic doxology from Revelation rather than the familiar one used by psalms and most of the other canticles. In this canticle, it is rolled into the last verse.

1. I saw a mighty multitude ~ an uncountable throng
2. From every nation of the earth, ~ each people, tribe and tongue
3. They stood before the throne and Lamb ~ in robes clad shining white,
Waving the palms they held aloft ~ and this did they recite.

4. “To our God seated on the throne ~ and to the Lamb belong
Salvation!” and the heav’nly host ~ responded with this song.
“Praise, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, ~ honour and power and might
Be given to our God always ~ for ever as is right”.

5. Who are these clad in white, who they? ~ The great ordeal they’ve passed.
Their robes they’ve washed in the Lamb’s blood ~ with whiteness unsurpassed.
6. And now they stand before God’s throne, ~ the shrine in which they serve,
Their privilege by night and day, ~ the bounty they deserve

7. The one who sits upon the throne ~ with them, his home has made.
His presence there will shelter them, ~ be from the sun their shade.
8. No more shall they know hunger, thirst, ~ nor any scorching heat.
9. The Lamb will be their Shepherd, ~ from his throne, guide their feet.

10. To living water he’ll lead them ~ from springs, their needs supplies.
They are where God will wipe away ~ all tears that wet their eyes.
To him who sits upon the throne, ~ the Lamb whom we adore,
Be blessing, honour, glory, might ~ both now and evermore.

The Tune

There are already a number of good DCM tunes in the tunebook which would suit this canticle well. However, I feel the tune that I have found for it is a bit special. It is a forgotten tune because it was written for a hymn, The roseate hues of early dawn that from the evidence in old hymn books of the number of tunes written for it must have been very popular in the late nineteenth century. However, the hymn seems to have fallen completely out of use, taking with it all memory of the various tunes to which it was sung. This is Sir John Stainer’s (1840-1901) tune for it.  It is very much in the style of its period. It takes its title, Roseate Hues from the first line of the hymn for which it was written. I feel it deserves a better name but that might be confusing to anyone who for some reason might need to collate it with its earlier appearances.  It is in D Major and there is a sudden change in both timing and tempo half way through each verse. This is it.

Stainer's Roseate Hues in Hymn Format
Stainer’s Roseate Hues

And this is a sample of Roseate Hues on Soundcloud.

It is possible there are other psalms and canticles that could be sung to it.

I saw no temple in the city

This is Canticle 74 in CWDP, where it is called A Song of the Heavenly City. There, it is a selection of verses from the end of Rev 21 and the beginning of Rev 22, Rev 21.22-26; 22.1,2b,d,3b,could be sung to it.4, with some omissions. Again, the version for this collection includes the whole of Rev 21:2 – Rev 22:4.

The Words

The metre is 87 87 D, and these are the words. As with I saw a Mighty Multitude, the last verse includes the Revelation doxology.

1. There I saw the heav’nly city ~ but no temple, great or small.
For its temple and its beauty ~ is God’s Lamb the Lord of all.
2. It has no need of sun nor moon ~ for its light is the I Am.
Its glory outshines any noon ~ and its lantern is the Lamb.

3. Gifts of glory princes shall pay, ~ the nations walk in its light,
4. And its gates stay open all day; ~ nor shall it know any night.
But no unclean thing shall go there, ~ nor what’s with foul rankness rife,
But only those whose names appear ~ in the Lamb’s blest book of life.

5. Crystal bright and down its main street ~ I saw life’s river flowing free
6.From God and the Lamb’s royal seat; ~ on each bank, there grew a tree,
Bearing fruit each month of the year ~ while its leaves the nations heal.
No accurséd thing shall walk there. ~ Tree and stream, God’s life reveal.

7. Before that glitt’ring throne of grace ~ shall his servants him acclaim.
Worshipping shall they see his face; ~ on their foreheads bear his name.
Bless the One who sits on that throne. ~ Worship the Lamb seated there.
Glory and might to them be shown ~ always, now, and everywhere.

The Tune

This is written to be sung to the classic and beautiful Welsh tune Calon Lân, for the hymn Nid wy’n gofyn bywyd moethus, much sung at Rugby matches. The phrase Calon Lân comes at the beginning of the chorus section. It was written by John Hughes (1872-1914), who is a different John Hughes from the composer of Cwm Rhondda. He rose from office boy to marketing manager of the Dyffryn Street Works in Morriston, Swansea, and sadly died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage aged only 42.

The words of Calon Lân were written by Daniel James (Gwyrosydd) (1848-1920). Although an English translation exists, it has never really become part of the repertoire of Anglophone tunes. Here it is pitched in A Major, which gives a top note of E.  However it appears in a number of other keys, G Major, B♭Major, or even F Major or A♭.

I believe the tune has been used for I will sing the wondrous story, which is usually sung to Hyfrydol.

Calon Lân in Hymn Format in A Maj
Calon Lân in A Major

And here is a link to a sample of Calon Lân on Soundcloud.

Mysteriously, the tune for Here is love vast as the Ocean sounds oddly similar even though its notes are quite different.

Advertisements

The souls of the Righteous

Graveyard At St Davids028
Graveyard at St David’s

The Souls of the Righteous

Here is something for the autumn, the season of All Saints, All Souls, the commemoration of the departed  and the coming Kingdom, as in the period between All Saints and Advent. It is also suitable for funerals and saints days, particularly Martyrs. This is The souls of the righteous, Canticle 46 in Common Worship Daily Prayer where, oddly, it is called A Song of the Righteous Wisdom. It is Wisdom 3:1,2a,3b-8, and takes its title in this collection from its opening words both in CWDP and this collection. This title also has more to do with the subject matter.

As with many canticles, it is suitable for use as an ordinary hymn.

Deuterocanonical canticles

For those who have reservations about singing canticles from the deuterocanonical books, I would ask you to reflect how ready you probably are, Sunday by Sunday, to sing hymns and choruses written by all sorts of people, whether it be Wesley, Luther, J.M. Neale, Graham Kendrick, Matt Redman or Hillsong.  Even if you do not accept the deuterocanonical books as part of your version of the scriptures and even if you do not attribute any authority to them, as spiritual writings they are at least comparable to the great spiritual writers of the Christian era, yet alone the latest fashion in recommended paperbacks. If you belong to a tradition that only sings the Psalms, or only sings the Psalms + paraphrases from the Hebrew Old Testament and the New Testament, I respect that. This canticle is not for you. But if your tradition includes the singing of hymns, then I do not think it is consistent to deny yourself this or any other canticle from the deuterocanonical books.

The Words

This version is in 11 11 11 11. The Gloria is included in the last verse.

1. The souls of the righteous rest safe in God’s hand:
No torment can touch them for worthy they stand.
2. In a fool’s eyes though they may seem to have died,
Now they are at peace and secure they abide.

3. They once did seem punished to our human eyes:
Their hope now abounds in life that never dies.
4. Though chastened a little, great good they’ll receive,
Their end not the ruin that most might believe.

5. Like gold in the smelter God tried them as true:
As an off’ring burnt whole he welcomed them too.
6. In the time of that testing they’ll shine with their worth,
As sparks in the stubble to sweep through the earth.

7. They’ll judge between nations, the peoples subdue:
And their king, God shall be ages and eons through.
Glory to the Father to Spirit and Son,
From now until always even when time’s done.

The Tune

The tune is my own four part setting of the tune for the traditional song The Water of Tyne. There are many other settings of this beautiful tune, which goes back as least as far as 1882, when it appeared in Bruce and Stokoe’s Northumbrian Minstrelsy.  As the words go back to 1810, or possibly 1793 or earlier, the tune probably goes back to the same era.

It is a melody. It is the tune that is important. It would work excellently with just one or two melodic instruments playing the top line, and a simple guitar accompaniment. It could also be worth trying as a two part tune, using either the Alto or the Tenor line as the counter, depending on which voices are available.

Since the melody ranges from D4 to F5, there is not much scope for transposing it into any other key.

Here it is 3/4 time because that is the time signature the Northumbrian Piper’s Society uses for it, but it often appears in 6/8.

Water of Tyne in 3-4 in Hymn Format v2a
The Water of Tyne

Here is the link to Water of Tyne  on Soundcloud (not added there at the moment). My apologies that this sample does even less justice to this tune than usual since it is difficult constructing it from sheet music via GarageBand in a way that remotely adequately can give this melody the sort of lyrical flow that human musicians can produce by instinct.

Here are links to two Youtubes I have found of the Water of Tyne sung in markedly different styles, the first is by a group of girls from a secondary school in Bristol, and the second by Sting and Jimmy Nail .

The Picture

The picture is a drawing of the graveyard on the edge of St David’s in Pembrokeshire and done with coloured conté sticks. It was late autumn, after the leaves had fallen, with a strong wind blowing.

Veni Sancte Spiritu – the Golden Sequence

Gate of Jerusalem v2
The Gate of the Holy City

This is the second of the two pre-reformation Sequences in Common Worship Daily Prayer where it is No. 85  and its title is Veni Sancte Spiritus – Come, Holy Spirit. The other was the subject of the post A gift in honour of Mary Magdalene on July the 19th last.

The original is usually attributed to Stephen Langton (c1150-1228), Archbishop of Canterbury in the reigns of King John and Henry III. It is in carefully constructed Latin verse, compact, taut, with striking use of rhyme, repetition of syllables, pattern and alliteration. Particularly noteworthy are a fourfold repetition of ‘Veni’ (Come) at the beginning and ‘Da’ (Give) at the end. Its other title, The Golden Sequence, is thought to reference as much the admiration people felt for Langton’s skilful use of language as the Sequence’s profound spirituality.

It is therefore somewhat surprising that CWDP has made no attempt to reflect this.  Good versions already exist in English that not only attempt to transpose some of the verbal qualities of the Latin original but are also in the same 777 metre as the original. That would mean it can be sung to music written for the hymn in Latin.

It is not as though the CWDP version makes up for this by being better as a literal translation, and that is without giving at least a nod to the fascinating question as to whether one thinks it might be important when translating verse to try to render some recognition of the fact that the original is the poetry rather than just to translate its semantic meaning. So for once, I would go so far as to say that I do not think the version in CWDP is suitable for use at all. As a rendering of the original, both textually and as literature, it is weaker than the hymn versions that are already available.

The words

Both Edward Caswell (1814-78) and J.M. Neale (1818-66) wrote versions in English to be sung to Webbe’s tune (see below). That means that their versions are in the same metre as Stephen Langton’s original. Both have appeared in many hymn books since, some with combinations garnished from both. I do not usually approve of altering old hymns unnecessarily that are still well known. However, since there are already detailed variations between the various versions of this hymn as they appear in extant hymn books, I have felt freer to do so. As both Caswell and Neale wrote over 150 years ago, what follows below is an attempt to update the language slightly, drawing on both versions and the underlying Latin.

1. Come, O Holy Spirit, come,
and from your celestial home
shed your rays of light divine.
Come, O Father of the poor.
Come, O source of all our store.
Come, within our hearts to shine.

2. Come, of comforters the best,
as the soul’s most welcome guest,
sweet refreshment here below.
in our labour rest most sweet,
grateful coolness in the heat,
solace in the midst of woe.

3. You O Light, most pure and blest,
shine within each inmost breast
of your faithful company.
Where you are not, we have have nought;
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.

4. What is soiled, now wash, make pure.
What is wounded, work its cure.
What is parched, refresh its plight.
What is rigid, gently bend.
What is frozen, warmly tend.
What has gone astray put right.

5. Give your faithful, who adore
and confess you, evermore
Your blest sev’nfold mystery.
Give them virtue’s sure reward.
Give them your salvation, Lord.
Give them joys eternally.

In the last verse, I was very tempted to change the third and last lines to “Your blessings septennial” and “Give them joys perennial”. That would resonate beautifully with the underlying Latin, but would have produced something that is too latinate to have a legitimate claim to be decent English.

‘Nought’ in v3 should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘thought’ in the next line, not ‘boat’ or ‘grout’.

The tune

However this sequence might have been sung in the early C13, a number of famous composers have written music for it over the centuries. The tune best known in the Anglophone world is by Samuel Webbe Senior (1740-1816). He was at the organist at the Catholic Chapels of the Sardinian and the Portuguese Embassies in London. He composed church music, glees and even an opera. Among his compositions is the well known tune below.  As a Catholic, of course, he wrote the tune for the original Latin version.

There are two different styles of arrangement current in hymnals.  It is not clear which is more likely to be closest to the tune as Webbe wrote it. The one below is supposed to derive from a printed version of the Latin version sometime in the 1850s, and so could be closer to the source. It also has much more similarity to one of the traditional arrangements than the other.

Veni Sancte Spiritus in Hymn Format
Veni Sancte Spiritus by Samuel Webbe Sen.

And here is a link to Veni Sancte Spiritus on Soundcloud.

The Picture

I got the idea for it from an illustration in a book on icons published about thirty years ago. I believe the particular icon that inspired me is called The Intercession and is in the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. I hope the ideas my picture is expressing are fairly obvious and do not too greatly offend those from even more Protestant traditions than my own. It is not just about intercession but also meant to say something about what is happening when we worship.  The ascended Christ is enthroned at the top of the picture. In the middle level is the Communion of Saints worshipping in the court of Heaven with the most holy Theotokos in the middle. We are at the bottom level.  It is what is at the bottom level where the concept goes furthest from the Russian original.

The figure in the centre of the bottom level is Melchizadeck. So perhaps it could be an illustration for Psalm 110. He is bringing forth bread and wine. The Father and the Holy Spirit, being invisible, can be neither represented nor portrayed. However, the invisible and active presence of the Holy Spirit even on our level of the Universe is denoted by the seven doves.

The original is quite small, A4, and painted with gouache.

Hannah’s Song

Hannah offers Samuel to God
Hannah offers Samuel to God (Rembrandt)

This is Hannah’s Song, I Sam 2:1-11.  Hannah is the mother of Samuel, and these are the words to which she gives voice when the day comes that Samuel is old enough for her to commit him to the care of Eli, the priest at Shiloh. In her gratitude to God for enabling her to have a son, she has vowed him to the Lord.

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” (I Sam 1:27-28, NRSV)

Part of the theme is that she has been blessed in the face of those, and especially in the face of her husband’s other wife Penninah, who mocked her for being childless. At the time, she probably thought that Samuel would just become a servant in the house of the LORD rather than eventually to become the prophet and judge in Israel, maker of kings.

There are marked resonances of this song in the Magnificat.

Hannah did not simply abandon Samuel at that point. It was more like the Ancient Israelite equivalent of sending one’s child to a choir school. God also blessed Hannah with more brothers and sisters for Samuel. Here is 1 Sam 2: 18-21, again from the NRSV.

Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home.

And the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. 

Common Worship Daily Prayer (CWDP) includes its version of the Song of Hannah as Canticle No 21 in the Old Testament section. In the CWDP version, only 1 Samuel 2:1,2,3b-5,7,8 are used. The version here includes the whole text. The CWDP version broadly corresponds to vv 1-line 2 of verse 4. So if one wanted to shorten it, the simple answer would be to sing those verses together with the Gloria.

This completes all the Canticles in CWDP from the Hebrew books of the Old Testament. There are still a few to go from the additional books in the Septuagint, and the New Testament.

The Words

I have deliberately chosen (see below) to write this in Double Common Metre, the same metre as that used in this collection for the Magnificat. Here are the words.

1. In the LORD my heart rejoices ~ in him, my strength, my rock.
In his salvation I am glad; ~ my enemies, I mock.
There is no holy one like him, ~ nor Rock like him, our LORD.
So neither boast, nor swagger, nor ~ spew arrogance abroad.

2. For God, you’re LORD of knowledge and ~ what we do, you assess.
The strong-armeds’ bows your break: the weak ~ with strength, you gird and dress.
The fed must hire themselves for bread: ~ the hungry now have corn.
Sev’n children has the barren borne: ~ the fertile are forlorn.

3. The LORD metes out both death and life, ~ who shall leave or remain.
To grave and Sheol does he despatch ~ yet brings to life again.
He makes one poor, another rich, ~ to bring low or restore.
He lifts from dust and midden both  ~ the needy and the poor.

4. With princes he gives them a place ~ assigns them the best seat.
The earth’s foundations LORD are yours ~ to make the world complete.
You keep the feet of those who serve ~ you faithfully on trail,
But leave the wicked in the dark; ~ for might does not prevail.

5. When from on high his thunder blasts ~ then shattered and aghast
Will be those who oppose the LORD: ~ out shall they all be cast.
He’ll judge and rule earth’s furthest ends, ~ its heights, its breadth, its length.
He’ll hearten his anointed king, ~ his hallowed raise in strength.

I have not followed all the switches between God as ‘you’ and ‘he’ in the original. Although the original is clear, when initially, I did follow the switches faithfully, it produced a metrical text where for some reason it was confusing who was being addressed or referred to where.

The tune

There are two tunes recommended for the Magnificat.  The one that physically accompanies it in Book 6 is Christmas Carol, by Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869 – 1941), one of his compositions for O Little town of Bethlehem. The other recommendation is a sixteenth century tune, Old Magnificat.  That also is already in the tunebook. So in the next edition of Book 6, Old Magnificat will be the tune provided for Hannah’s Song. Here is a link to Old Magnificat on Soundcloud. Although it is already in the tunebook, as a reminder, here it is set out in hymn format.

Old Magnificat Hymn Format
Old Magnificat

This version is a combination of the version in Playford, only to a different rhythm in a version found at hymnary.org,  and with a C21 alto line added.

Personally, I think it is a markedly better fit for Hannah’s Song than Christmas Carol would be. It has more of the flavour of the subversive triumph that underlies both Hannah’s Song and the Magnificat than Christmas Carol conveys. For evening prayer, though, Christmas Carol with its associations with the nativity, does work well for the Magnificat.

Here, by the way is a version of Christmas Carol  on Soundcloud.

Ephesian Hymn – The impossible Canticle?

Spring curves painting
Abstract – Summer arcs

I’ve said before that I thought it was impossible to set Eph 1:3-10, Canticle 60 in Common Worship Daily Prayer to metre. Over a year ago (in The Easter Season (and a challenge)  8th April 2016) I even put down a challenge to the world to produce a setting. No one has risen to it.  I thought that the number of complex and multisyllabic words and the dense structure of Paul’s argument both made this impossible to achieve. This was something that applied to all the English translations. It was just too Pauline! Nevertheless, I have now managed to do this. I am cautious only to say ‘managed to do this’ rather than ‘succeeded’.

It recently suddenly struck me that it just might be possible to set this to verse if one were to sit slightly lighter than my usual preference with the actual words of the original and were to attempt to work from the underlying thoughts, to express the ideas rather than St Paul’s idiom.  This is the result.

It is Double Common Metre. That has the advantage of being one of the easier metres to write in.

In CWDP it has the title A Song of God’s Grace and is used quite often. It is allocated to Monday evenings in Ordinary Time, and as an alternative for evenings in the Easter Season and on from Ascension to Pentecost. I am calling it Ephesian Hymn.

The words

1. Blest are you, God and Father of ~ our Lord who’s Jesus Christ.
He’s blessed us from above in him ~ with what cannot be priced,
And blessed us in the Spirit with ~ a heav’nly accolade.
2. You chose us to be yours in Christ ~ before the world was made.

For you chose us blameless to be ~ and holy in your sight,
3. Destined in love, by will and choice ~ of God, through Christ, when right,
As your adopted children, picked, ~ to know your free embrace,
4. In the Belov’d lavished on us ~ to the praise of your grace.

5. In Christ we are both rescued and ~ forgiven through his blood,
6. In the wealth of your boundless grace ~ in our lives brought to bud.
7. You’ve let us know your deep intent, ~ the mystery of your will
With all your wisdom, insight, formed ~ your purpose to fulfil.

8. For you’ve set forth your great design, ~ the plan you’d bring to birth,
To gather and unite in Christ ~ all things in heaven and earth,
To glorify the Father, Son  ~ and Spirit, one and three,
As was, and is, and shall be so  ~  through all eternity.

The tune – All Saints New

There were two other tunes I had in mind as possibilities for this canticle. However, I recently came across the tune below, which I think is a better match for it than either of them. As far as I know, this tune is as good as unknown on this side of the Atlantic. It is known as All Saints New, and is by Henry Cutler (1824-1902). I found it here at hymnary.org . I know very little about its history or its composer except that it was originally written for the hymn The Son of God goes forth to war one of the many hymns by Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826).  Henry Cutler seems to have been a distinguished organist on the East Coast of the USA who had also studied in Europe and while there to have been influenced both by the English cathedral tradition and the Oxford Movement. Here it is in B♭. That seems to be its usual key..

All Saints New in Hymn Format
All Saints New by Henry Cutler (1824-1902)

And here is a link to All Saints New on Soundcloud.

It is an amusing conjecture – or at least, I think it is – to think that from his dates and circumstances, it is just possible that Henry Cutler might have managed to be one of the few people who could have met both Lowell Mason and Arthur Sullivan. Sullivan was a great musician. Followers of this site just might have picked up that for all his great output, I do not have the same admiration for Lowell Mason.

The Picture

Once again this is an abstract, featuring arcs. I felt that if I was going to use this painting as an illustration, I needed to get it posted before the summer has totally gone.

64, 65 and 67 Three more New Testament Canticles

Stavronikita No 4 IMG_0946.JPG
Athos, ‘Agion Oros’, the Holy Mountain, from Stavronikita Monastery.

This is a little group of New Testament Canticles, all from the later epistles. They do not have a great deal in common apart from following each other in Common Worship Daily Prayer, two of them consecutively. Number 66, which comes between 65 and 67 and which breaks the sequence, is For you Christ suffered 1 Peter 2.21b-25 see the blog for Feb 28th 2016,  Psalms etc for Lent . The preceding canticle, Number 63, Shown in the Flesh to which CWDP gives the odd title A Song of Christ’s Appearing, was in the blog A funny little season – Ascension to Pentecost  dated 4th May 2016.

 

1 – God’s Holy Mountain No 64

The first of these is Hebrews 12: 22-24a, 28-29, Canticle 64 in CWDP, where it has the curious title  A song of God’s Assembled. The first two verses begin and end with the phrase ‘we have come’. The metre is 10 10 10 10.

1. We have come before God’s holy mountain,
The heav’nly Zion, his city and fountain,
Before glad angels, an unnumbered sum,
And heav’n’s firstborn citizens; we have come.

2. We have come before God, judge of all,
And the just spirits made whole in their call,
And Jesus, mediator, medium
Of the new covenant; lo we have come.

3. Once more he has said he’ll shake heav’n and earth
And then no more before he brings to birth
His unshakeable kingdom.  Hear; believe,
And heed his voice so that you may receive.

4. Let us give thanks to God whom we adore
And offer him with reverence and awe
Such praise and worship as he shall desire
Because our God is a consuming fire.

The tune – Song 22

The tune recommended in this collection is Song 22 in F Major by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), below. It first appeared in this collection as the tune for Psalm 60.  It remains a good alternative for that Psalm, though in future editions of Book 2, the tune for Psalm 60 will be Langran (see below).

It is not clear from any of the sources, whether this version of Song 22 taken from a C19 source is still as Orlando Gibbons wrote it.  There is a better arrangement in the Yattendon Hymnal. The two middle parts in that arrangement appear to have been modified by Mrs Mary Bridges, wife of Robert Bridges.  Although he died in 1930, her dates are 1863-1949.  So if that is correct, I cannot change to that version in this collection until January 2020. If you want to look at it, though, and particularly if you are in a different jurisdiction with a different copyright period, hymnary.org here has an accessible copy of the complete Yattendon Hymnal.

Another possibility which is already in the collection for Arise. Shine out would be Birmingham.

Song Twenty Two in Hymn Format
Song 22 in F Major by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

Here is a link to Song 22 on Soundcloud.

Langran

This is another tune in 10 10 10 10 metre. It is by James Langran (1835-1909). It is another of the many tunes that people composed in the C19 for Abide with me. Because  Eventide is now so indelibly the tune that goes with that much loved hymn, that the others (see Lyte’s Original – 31st May 2016) largely seem to have been forgotten.  Langran has also been used for Here O my Lord, I see thee face to face.  The tune was originally called St Agnes. However, there is already a much better known CM tune called St Agnes by J. B. Dykes.  It is usually associated with the hymn Jesu the very thought of thee and in this collection it is used for The Law of the Spirit, in Two Canticles from Romans (6 Jan 2017).  So to avoid confusion, the tune James Langran wrote has come over the last 150 years to have been renamed after him.

As mentioned in the previous post, tunes in this metre tend not to be as freely interchangeable as Common Metre tunes. So although Psalm 60 fits either Langran or Song 22, God’s Holy Mountain does not really work to Langran. This tune is here in F Major.

Langran (or St Agnes) in Hymn Format
Langran (sometimes known as St Agnes) in F Major by James Langran (1835-1909)

Here is a link to Langran on Soundcloud.

2 – Born into a living hope No 65

The second canticle in this post is selection of verses, 1 Pet 1: 3-5, 18, 19, 21.  It is Canticle 65 in CWDP.  Again, CWDP gives it a slightly odd title, in this case, A Song of Faith.  CWDP provides it for Evening Prayer in the Easter Season. The metre is 88 88 88.

1. Our God the Father we applaud
Of Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord.
2. By his great mercy, we’ve been born,
Anew into this hope, this dawn,
Alive with Jesus who has burst
Forth from the grave, the curse reversed.

3. A patrimony he has gained
That can’t be lost, nor spoilt, nor stained,
That’s kept in heav’n for us reserved,
4. While by his power, here, we’re preserved
By faith for our salvation’s sway,
To be revealed on the last day.

5. Ransomed were you from futile ways
Of your forbears, their hopes, their stays,
Not with things that perish and die,
Gold, silver, nor what they can buy,
6. But with the precious blood of Christ
The spotless Lamb, the sacrificed.

7. Through him in God, we’ve come to trust,
Who raised him up from death and dust
And glorified him, gave us scope
To place in him our faith and hope,
And praise the Father, Spirit, Son
Always, till time itself is done.

The Tune – Barragh

Here, it is set to the tune Barragh, in A Minor, by the Rev John Chetham (? – 1746).  It comes originally from his Book of Psalmody of 1718. Although there is no doubt as to his date of death at Skipton, he is variously recorded as having as having been born in 1665 or 1688. The minor key here is the foundation for a tune that is dignified rather than sad. John Chetham was Master of the Clerk’s School Skipton. His Book of Psalmody carried on through successive editions until c 1885, that is to say, a spread of c 170 years, with various editors and tunes being added and removed. I have a copy from the mid C19, by which time Chetham is spelt Cheetham and Barragh has been dropped from the repertoire.

Barragh in Hymn Format
Barragh in A Minor by the Revd. John Chetham (?-1746)

Here is a link to Barragh on Soundcloud.

3 – Our God is light

The final canticle for this post is 1 Jn 1:5-9, Canticle 67 in CWDP where it is called A Song of Repentance.  It is an alternative for Evenings in Lent, but would also be suitable for other Seasons of Preparation, or for a Friday or Saturday evening in Ordinary Time. It is in Common Metre.

1. Lo, this is what we’ve heard from Christ ~ and now proclaim to you.
Our God is light. In him there is ~ no darkness; he is true.

2. If we protest we are God’s friends ~ yet still in darkness walk,
Then any truth we claim is false; ~ mere lies is all our talk.

3. If in the light we live and walk, ~ as God is in the light,
Then fellowship is what we have; ~ we know our Lord’s delight.

4. The blood of Jesus then, the Son ~ of God avails to clean
Us of all sin, and purifies ~ from all that’s sick and mean.

5. If we say that we’re free from sin  ~ ourselves we dupe and fool.
There is no truth within our hearts; ~ we do not know his rule.

6. If we confess our sins then he ~ who faithful is and just,
Us will forgive, cleansing us from ~ injustice and disgust.

The Tune – Dunlap’s Creek

The tune here is Dunlap’s Creek. It is as good as unknown in England but may be better known in Scotland and Ulster. In style, it will sound very unfamiliar to English ears. It is a classic ‘early American’ type of tune from c 1820 in what one might call ‘frontier style’. In this, it contrast with Boyd’s Salvation (see Psalm 141).  Because that appears in a collection called Kentucky Harmony of 1815, it has been assumed to come from the American frontier. However, by style, I am fairly sure Boyd’s Salvation  is English Trad. from a generation or two earlier.

Dunlap’s Creek is usually attributed to Freeman Lewis (1780-1859).  He seems to have been a surveyor and amateur musician. Some sources, though, attribute it to an unknown Samuel McFarland from the same era. It is sometimes known as Babel’s Streams because it has been used for Ps 137. That, though, is confusing as there are other tunes with similar names.

There are several versions of both the melody and the harmonies. Even the timing can differ. There are also some modern arrangements and a shape note version with the melody in the tenor. The setting here, though, is public domain and comes from hymnary.org. Some of the harmonies betray its primitive origins. It should not be sung too fast.  Nor as a ‘folk’ style tune should it be played too rigidly. Below, it is in F Major.

Dunlap's Creek in Hymn Format
Dunlap’s Creek In F Major usually attributed to Freeman Lewis (1780-1859)

Here is a link to Dunlap’s Creek on Soundcloud.

Many other tunes both in CM and DCM tunes would also fit this canticle well.

Psalm 4 Revised

Transfiguration
Abstract

Psalm 4

The version of Psalm 4 in the downloadable version of Book 1 follows Sternhold and Hopkins fairly closely and has retained much of its C16 syntax.  I had felt for some time that it needed attention. The version on my computer even ended up with a note appended to it reading ‘recast’.  Anyway, when I started to update it, I found I could not help rewriting it completely.  This is the result. The previous version had nine stanzas. This has reduced to seven. In future iterations of Book 1 it will replace the current version. It has stayed with Common Metre.

The Words

Because of the references to bed and lying down, Psalm 4 is associated with night time and sleep, and Compline/Night Prayer with a particular recommendation for Mondays in Ordinary Time.

1. God of my righteousness hear me; ~ distressed, I plead your care:
I was constrained; you set me free; ~ be gracious; hear my prayer.

2. You scions of rank how long will you ~ my honour, credit, shame?
How long will you chase vanity ~ and lies that do defame?

3. Know that the LORD has set apart ~ his faithful as his own:
The LORD hears when I call to him ~ in trouble or alone.

4. Tremble before him; do not sin; ~ keep holy fear and dread:
Go, meditate within your heart; ~ be quiet upon your bed.

5. Make righteous sacrifices and ~ put your trust in the LORD.
6. For many say ‘could we but see ~ good that we can applaud?’

6/7. So let your light shine on us LORD. ~ In my heart you enshrine
A joy that’s greater than all their ~ abundant grain and wine.

8. In peace I shall lie down and sleep; ~ in both you treasure me:
For you alone LORD make me dwell ~ in safe tranquility.

There are a few issues with the text. Although it sounds ‘good and biblical’ I do not know what Elohi tzidiqi, “God of my righteousness” meant at the time it was written. The righteousness is definitely ‘mine’ not God’s The possessive is there in the original. To anyone familiar with Reformed theology, it would naturally testify to imputed righteousness. One can even plead Augustine as authority for that interpretation. But how much did David or anyone else even imagine how one could think in those terms before St Paul? The Authorised Version sticks with “O God of my righteousness:”, as do many translations since.  A few, though, do try to gloss a meaning out of it, usually by rendering  tzidiqi , more dynamically, RSV and NRSV ‘O God of my right’, REB, ‘God, the upholder of my right’ and even ‘my righteous God’ (NIV 1984 and 1911). It is though impossible to do that without moving into realms of interpretation.

Translators also seem to have problems with whose glory it is that is being shamed in v2. Because the word is used widely in the Old Testament to speak of God’s glory, does that mean the psalm must have switched focus suddenly?  Must the ‘my’ mean that it is God’s glory, not the psalmist’s? Since it is God who is glorious, wouldn’t it be lèse majesté for the psalmist to speak of his own? However, even if we are uncomfortable speaking of a person having ‘glory’ the underlying word is also used widely to speak of something which people do have, their honour, credit, respect, or even in some contexts, impressive appearance. So I have assumed that the palmists’s ’my’ continues to be himself.

The use of ‘righteous’ in connection with the sacrifices in v 5 undoubtedly carries with it a sense of making the proper, due and correct sacrifices in the proper, due and correct way. Indeed, it is possible that a person of the psalmist’s time might have been unable to conceiving of using of the word ‘righteous’ in conjunction with slaughtering a sacrifice without making that assumption.

Verse 6, though, does seem to include a temporary shift of focus.  However one renders it, it seems to be a brief interjection, an aside. It appears to mean something like ‘there are many people who say “who has or will shown us something good?” ‘ But is it perhaps a question. So is its tone mockery or a sighing semi-despair, ‘would that someone might show us something good?’ Again, translators seem to be undecided. My rendering is intended to convey that ambiguity. I hope it succeeds.

The tune

The Scottish psalter recommends the tune Abbey, Anon in G Major, for the Roux version of this psalm. Book 1 followed that for the previous iteration. Although it is not a particularly exciting tune, I am therefore retaining it. The other recommendation is Oxford Old, Anon in A Minor, which is the tune for this psalm in Playford and is provided for Forget Former Things in Book 6. With its slight ‘early music’ quality, that tune would be particularly suitable when this psalm is used for Compline. There are, though, many other Common Metre tunes that would also be suitable.

It has an odd number of verses and I do not think any verse can be omitted without playing fast and loose with the overall meaning of the psalm. Nevertheless, for Compline especially, it would also work very well in DCM with the addition of the Doxology after the last verse. The tune below, Pentatone, which will in due course be added to the collection as either a ‘spare’ tune or the tune for something else might be particularly suitable. It is by H. Walford Davies (1869-1941).  The version below was taken from one originally in E Major.  Here it has been transposed into E♭Major.  It has also been simplified slightly at the end of the second line. It is possible that the version I was taking it from might even have contained a misprint.

Pentatone in Hymn Format in E♭
Pentatone in Hymn Format in E♭

Here is a link to Pentatone on Soundcloud.

More musings on metre

Many of the metrications I have been working on recently have been canticles, and many of them have been from the New Testament. Rewriting Psalm 4, it struck me once again how naturally many psalms seem to fit Common Metre. The fit is not perfect. The originals were written in Hebrew with a different metrical and musical culture. Common Metre seems to have developed naturally in English sometime in the middle to late Middle Ages, out of our language’s specific speech patterns. But compared with other metres, the underlying structure of a typical psalm, the length of the thoughts in them and the way they are grouped, do seem so often to fit Common Metre in a way that is nothing like so much the case with other passages from scripture, and particularly with those which were not originally written or spoken poetry in Hebrew. Even the subtle flexibility in Common Metre helps this, the way that in Common Metre lines can either be markedly eight and six syllables long, or with enjambment can be a different version of a fourteen syllable line.  Some patterns within that work and some do not, but too rigid a regular eight-six pattern or too regular compliance with a iambic rhythm sounds monotonous.

Of course 10 10 10 10 iambic pentameters are also deeply embedded in the language’s natural speech patterns. For verse intended to be read, spoken or used on the stage, there is no doubt that the fifth metric foot in each line gives space for an extra rhythmic subtlety. For song-writing, though, this makes it less suitable and almost certainly explains why there are fewer hymn tunes in that metre.  Compared with Common Metre tunes, those in that metre are much less likely to be interchangeable. There is usually a natural pause point, a slight caesura, somewhere in a ten foot line, but there are different points in the line where it can come.  Frequently, it does not come at the same point in different lines or the same line in different verses. As poetry, subtle metrical variation between successive verses often contributes to the dynamic of that metre. It does not, though, always make it easier to fit ten syllable lines to music.

I have mentioned before that an issue that does cause problems for writing in Common Metre is the way many modern people dislike word inversions and non-conversational word order. There are good reasons for this objection but all to often this aspiration is at odds with something that is fundamental to the nature of Common Metre.  This is particularly so when one is writing for singing which allows for less flexibility when it comes to adding or reducing the number of syllables in a line. With Common Metre, it also matters which words coincide with the rhymes and the relationship not just between the rhythm of the words and the syllables that carrying the stresses, but also the meaning, which words are more important and which less. Both rhyme and rhythm need to fall on words that carry a natural emphasis. This is not just a matter of rhythmic stress.  It also needs to fit the sense of the line. One needs to accept that and live with it. If it forces a word inversion or a non-conversational word order, so be it.

The picture

An abstract is a recent step for me and a new step for the pictures on these blogs. Let me know what you think. I’d be curious also to know what you think inspired me to paint it.