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.


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


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.

Corinthian Hymn – Love is ….

Salisbury Cathedral from meadows
Salisbury Cathedral from Harnham Meadows


I had not been quite sure what to do about this canticle. It is No. 59 in Common Worship Daily Prayer, where it has the title A Song of Divine Love. It is 1 Cor 13:4-13, part of one of the best known passages in the New Testament, often read at weddings. There are, though several other reasons why I have felt a bit daunted at versifying these verses.

– The canticle is actually quite long, 12 verses in its prose version.

– There is an excellent and well known hymn inspired by some of these verses by Bishop Christopher Wordsworth (1807-85), Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost, which as a hymn is probably better than anything I am ever likely to write.  He was bishop of Lincoln from 1869 to 1885 and a nephew of the poet.  It only covers part of the CWDP canticle and is slightly too loose a rendering really to count as a metrical version of it by the standards of this site.  I cannot criticise Bishop Wordsworth for that. He did not write it either as a canticle or a metrical version of these verses. It is one of series of hymns he wrote inspired by, not a rendering of, the epistles in the 1662 Prayer Book, in this case for Quinquagesima.  That is the old name for the Sunday before Lent.  Nevertheless, if anyone wanted to sing it in lieu of the canticle, I could not disagree with their decision.

– The canticle starts at 1 Cor 13:4 but there happens to be rather a good rendering of 1 Cor 13:1-3 by Isaac Watts in Long Metre, which has gone out of use.  He also wrote a less inspiring version of part of the rest of the passage in Common Metre.  So what I have decided to do is to render the whole chapter into Long Metre, with the verses at the beginning inspired by rather than partially derived from Isaac Watts’s version.  Verse 3 is the only one that is still all that close to what Watts wrote.  I have then divided the whole into two parts, so that one can select which verses and how much of it one wishes to sing on any particular occasion.

The words

These are the words,

Part 1

1. Though with the tongues of heav’n and earth
I speak, I’m yet as nothing worth —
If I’ve no love. I am a farce,
A gong or cymbal made of brass

2. Were I inspired to preach and tell
All myst’ries found in heav’n or hell,
Or could my faith a mountain move,
I am as nothing without love.

3. Should I give all from my whole store
To feed the hungry and the poor;
Or hand my body to the flame,
To gain a martyr’s glorious name, —

4. If love for God and people too
Are absent, vain is all I do.
No tongues, no gifts, no fire nor zeal
My lack of love can e’er conceal.

Part 2 – the verses of this Canticle in CWDP

5. Love is patient, mild, kind and good
Not envious, vaunting, proud, nor rude.
Rejoicing not in ill but truth,
Not cross, resentful nor uncouth.

6. Love is not harsh, nor inhumane,
Nor grudging, sour, puffed up or vain.
All things loves bears, believes and hopes,
Endures, is endless in its scope.

7. Tongues, prophecies will all depart.
We know and prophesy in part.
The partial shall give up its power
When what is perfect strikes its hour.

8. When but a child, then like a child
I reason’d, spoke, my thoughts I styled.
But I grew up, reached adult days.
I cast aside my childish ways.

9. For riddles through a glass I see
But face to face then shall I be.
In part is all that now I’m shown;
Then shall I know as I am known.

10. Love bears all things but never ends.
These are the three; these are our friends.
Faith, hope and love shall ever be,
But love’s the greatest of the three.

The tune

There are a number of Long Metre tunes which suit this canticle. Angel’s Song, by Orlando Gibbons (1585-1625) often used for Forth in thy name O Lord I go and in this collection allocated to Psalm 40, would be an excellent choice.

It will also work well in Double Long Metre.  That is probably a necessity if one wants to sing the whole Canticle at once. London (added in the previous blog, 19th July 2017) and Haydn’s Creation (Ps 93) in this collection would both work well.

However the tune below, which I have chosen for it, has a curious history.  It will not be well known. I found it in an old copy of Hymns Ancient and Modern. I think it may have been there from the original edition in 1861. There it is entitled Jesu Dulcis Memoria and is set to a hymn by J.M.Neale, Jesu! The very thought is sweet. The Latin title of the tune implies that his hymn could be his rendering of the Latin hymn that originally went to this tune. The tune is marked ‘Proper Sarum Melody’.

If one forgets about (and ignores) its presumably being originally plainsong, it is an attractive tune in its own right, best played at a reasonable speed, and treated in a slightly ‘folky’ style.  The version on Soundcloud is in that form. It shares with a lot of folk tunes a modal ambivalence. It feels a little as though it cannot quite to make up its mind whether it is in D or E Dorian. In that, it is like a number of dance tunes in 9/8 time which end on the second in a way that leaves the tune feeling incomplete, a sense that one has not finished, that one should dance on.

It is up to you when you get to the last verse, whether you stick with E Dorian, or resolve it with a chassé onto a D chord, in which case, the easy option is D, D, A, low F.

Taking the tune fairly fast and making sure that the numerous melismas keep the discipline of having a conventional time signature also makes it easier not to lose track of which syllables go with which notes.

Since the end result will doubtless horrify any lover of early music, since the same tune sometimes appears elsewhere under a different title Christe Redemptor Omnium, and since all that this version now has in common with its early music ancestor is approximately the same notes in the same order, I felt that this version probably should not appear under the name of its forbear.  So in tribute to the remains of the old Salisbury on a hill north of the current one, I am  calling this version New Sarum. As far as I have been able to find out, this title has not been used previously.

New Sarum (Jesu Dulcis Memoria) in Hymn Format
New Sarum (from Jesu Dulcis Memoria)

I have added it to Soundcloud and it can be found here

The Picture

is a photograph of Salisbury Cathedral from Harnham Meadows, slightly south of the viewpoint in one of Constable’s Salisbury paintings, the one with the rainbow in it.

A gift in honour of Mary Magdalene

ikon Mary Magdalene
Ikon showing Mary Magdalene and the linen cloths lying. I have been unable to find its source.

The 22nd July, this Saturday, is St Mary Magdalene’s day. So I thought I would mark it by posting this canticle.  It is a metrical version of No 83 in Common Worship Daily Prayer where its title is Victimae Paschali – A Song of the Resurrection. It is a version of what is called the Easter Sequence, one of only four pre-Reformation Sequences which were not suspended at the Council of Trent.  The other three are The Golden Sequence for Pentecost, No 85 in CWDP, the Dies Irae and one for Corpus Christi. All four were originally written in Latin, and are western only. According to wikipedia,  it is usually attributed to the 11th century Wipo of Burgundy, chaplain to the German Emperor Conrad II, but has also been attributed to Notker Balbulus, Robert II of France, and Adam of St. Victor.

The version in CWDP is in prose.  That is odd.  The original Latin is in verse.  More than one metrical version already exists in English.  CWDP does include some office hymns and metrical versions of the Magnificat and Benedictus. So one would have thought it would be more appropriate to reflect this by rendering any English version into metre.

As one might expect, the Easter Sequence is normally sung at Easter. There is quite a well known hymn version of it, Christ the Lord is ris’n to day: Christians, haste your vows to pay, by Jane Leeson (1807-1882) in 7777 7777 which appears in several hymn books. If still sung, it is usually sung to Llanfair, the tune for Hail the day that sees him rise with Alleluias at the end of each line.

The Latin version includes the dialogue with Mary Magdalene that the CWDP version replicates. However, even in the full version of Jane Leesom’s version, Mary’s answer lacks a certain ‘punch’. Rather than describe the grave clothes, she just says, “I beheld, where Christ had lain, ~ Empty tomb and angels twain;”. Furthermore, those hymn books that still contain the hymn, often only have part of it, and leave out the dialogue with Mary Magdalene.

The words

Here is a quite different version. It is usually attributed to Sir Walter Kirkham Blount (? – 1717) but it is just possible it might have been written by his father, Sir George Blount (? – 1667). The family were recusants. It appears at least as early as 1670 in a bilingual companion to the Catholic offices of Holy Week and Easter published (allegedly) in Paris in that year. I say ‘allegedly’ since according to Professor Eamon Duffy, by the late C17 some recusant works were being illegally printed in England with false title pages to give the impression they had actually been printed abroad. I have no idea whether this book was one of them.  As it is quite a substantial book, I suspect not.

Anyway, here are the words. I have made a few small changes to fit modern grammar, and one more significant one.

The significant one is in the sixth line. Sir Walter’s original reads “and made his father’s anger cease,”. That represents theology that in the C17 everyone on both sides of the Reformation divide would have taken for granted. They would not have noticed it. It would have neither jarred nor struck them as remotely controversial. However, it is not what the underlying Latin says, which is, “Christus innocens Patri reconciliavit peccatores” ‘The innocent Christ has reconciled sinners to the Father’.  There has been acrimonious controversy about the line ‘the wrath of God was satisfied’ in the modern hymn ‘In Christ alone’.  It is not something I feel strongly about. When it comes to atonement theory, there is one thing one can say with confidence.  If a person tells you that their explanation is the right and only one, they are wrong.  However, some people dislike that line so much that they have refused to sing the hymn. I felt that there was no need to insist on Sir Walter’s theology if it is not in the Latin original, and if it meant people might not sing this version. So I have replaced it with “made your breach with the Father cease.”

The metre means that Magdalene in the eleventh line is three syllables. It is not ‘Maudlen’. It is up to congregations whether they prefer to sing ‘Madeleine’ or ‘Magdalene’.

The original is in Long Metre, but for the reasons explained below, this is set out as Double Long Metre.

1. Bring, all ye dear-bought nations, bring
your richest praises to the king,
That spotless Lamb, who more than due,
paid for his sheep, and those are you.
The guiltless Son, who bought your peace,
made your breach with the Father cease.
Then, life and death together fought,
each to a strange extreme were brought.

2. Life died, but soon revived again,
and even death by it was slain.
Say, happy Magdalene, oh say,
what did you see there on your way?
“I saw the tomb of my dear lord,
I saw himself and him adored,
I saw the napkin and the sheet,
that bound his head and wrapped his feet.’

3. ‘I heard the angels witness bear,
Jesus is ris’n; he is not here;
Go, tell his followers they shall see,
yours and their hope in Galilee.”
We, Lord, with faithful hearts and voice,
on this your rising day rejoice.
O you, whose power o’came the grave,
by grace and love us sinners save.

The original Latin version included a stanza that is now almost universally omitted as anti-semitic. There is a sanitised reflection of it in the section of the CWDP text that reads

“Trust Mary, believers,
for only she has truth to tell,
unlike the falsifying crowd
of rumour-makers and deceivers.

I have not, though, attempted to reinsert anything comparable.

The tune

Among Catholics, the Blount version is often sung to the excellent tune Lasst Uns Erfreuen which will be familiar to almost everyone as the tune for All Creatures of Our God and King. That is a Long Metre tune with two repeats of Alleluia after the second line of each verse and five after the fourth. Even though that makes a six verse hymn fairly long, I would like to have retained it. It is particularly appropriate for an Easter hymn. Alas, although the tune is recorded at least as far back as the 1620s, the version everybody knows was arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams. So in the UK, I assume it is still in copyright and will remain so until 31st December 2028. If you have a hymn book with his version in it, please feel free to use it, but I cannot publish it here.

In stead, I am providing London in F Major by John Sheeles (1688?-1761). It has been the usual tune for the hymn The Spacious Firmament on High, by Joseph Addison (1672-1719), itself a fairly free paraphrase of Ps 19:1-6. I feel that the change in timbre between the first four lines of the melody and the second four draw out the switch from question to answer in the middle verse. It would make sense for male voices to sing,

Say, happy Magdalene, oh say,
what did you see there on your way?

And then for female voices to sing Mary’s answer, the rest of that verse and the first four lines of the next. Everybody could then sing the last four lines from “We, Lord, with faithful hearts and voice, … ” to the end.

Very little seems to be known about Sheeles apart from his having been a celebrated player of the harpsichord. The tune occasionally appears entitled Addison or Kettering. It is usually in F Major.

The last line repeats. A sample of the tune is on the Soundcloud page.

London in Hymn Format
London by John Sheeles (1688?-1761)

Canticles from Isaiah – An egg on face moment

The Flight into Egypt by Millet (1814-74) currently in the Art Institute of Chicago.

I said proudly when I posted Salvation is our strong city on 31st December last year, that that completed all the Canticles in Isaiah.  On checking through the downloadable version of Book 6 on this site and all the blogs since May 2015, I have realised I was wrong. To my great embarrassment, I have left one out. It is one that I had put into metre and linked to a tune several months ago.  I was relaxing in the delusion that I had published it.  I realise I never seem actually to have done so.

To mark how this in a continuation of the post of 31st December 2016, I have headed this post with the same picture as that one.

This is a bit soon after my last post, but having spotted the mistake, I felt I needed to put it right as soon as possible.

The missing Isaiah Canticle

The missing canticle is Isaiah 61.10-11; 62.1-3. These are consecutive verses that run over the chapter break. It is Canticle 35 in Common Worship Daily Prayer, where it is called ‘A Song of the Bride’.  This does not just comes from the simile in the second stanza.  The verses that follow on from it Is 62:4-5 continue the same theme.  Judah and the land are to be married to the LORD.  In this collection, though, it will be called I shall rejoice, my soul be glad after its first line. It is a song of  exuberant joy and is provided as the opening Canticle for Morning Prayer during the twelve days of Christmas.  If it was not that there are already plenty of good Christmas Carols, it would make an excellent one.  It has the advantage which it shares with While shepherds watched and Joy to the world of being sung scripture.

It is certainly suitable as a hymn for the Christmas season or any other festive occasion.

These are the words. They are in Common Metre.

1. I shall rejoice; my soul be glad, ~ in God, my LORD with glee.
He’s clothed me in salvation’s robes, ~ cloak of integrity,

2. As bridegroom decks himself with flowers ~ or bride with jewels is hung.
As earth erupts with blossom and ~ the seeds in garth have sprung,

3. Before the nations, God shall make ~ his righteousness and praise
Erupt and bloom in burgeoning; ~ abundant are his ways.

4. For Ziön’s sake, I’ll not keep quiet ~ nor for Jerus’lem rest,
Till like the dawn, her rescue shines ~ a torch ablaze with zest.

5. Your salvation shall nations see; ~ your glory, kings behold.
A new name shall the LORD pronounce, ~ a new name for your old.

6. You shall a crown of beauty be ~ in the hand of the LORD,
A royal diadem held close ~ by God, in his grip stored.

The tune

This lively tune, which deserves to be better known, is Gainsborough, by William Tans’ur (1699-1783) and is in F Major.  It also sometimes appears under the name of St Martin’s. It has been on the Soundcloud site for some time. It is also a suitable tune to use with other joyful Common Metre tunes.

Other possible tunes for this canticle might be Effingham (CM) and Chorus Angelorum.

Gainsborough or St Martin in Hymn Format
Gainsborough or St Martin in Hymn Format

Two Herefords

Artemisia Gentileschi - Judith decpitates Holofernes
Judith cuts off the head of Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi

And, no, the picture should indicate that the title is nothing to do with the cattle of a thousand hills.

Even if I were going to provide metrical versions for all the Canticles in Common Worship Daily Prayer, which at the moment I do not expect to do, there are fewer left now.  I wonder if some of the Canticles in Common Worship are ever used.   Nevertheless, I still have some in the pipeline and here are two canticles, one from the Hebrew Old Testament and one only in the Greek one.

Come Sky give Ear – or Song of the Rock

This is Canticle 20 in CWDP, and is Deut 32:1-12. There it is called A Song of the Rock, which it takes from a reference to God as the Rock in Deut 32:4.  There is a well known chorus inspired by that single verse.   CWDP suggests it as an alternative Canticle to go between the readings at Morning Prayer in Lent. However, as I’ve explained before, the recommendations for the Canticle between the readings, as also for the opening hymn, are only recommendations, suggestions. They are not binding.  We are not tied to them either for any particular season or the repetition of services by days of the week in Green time. Furthermore, all the psalms and canticles in this collection can also be used as hymns in any other sort of service. So there is nothing to stop you using this at other times of the year.

The original prose version is quite long, Deut 32: 1-43. Even at twelve verses, the canticle in CWDP is less than a third of the full song. I have done my best to keep it as concise as I can without losing too much of the message or the imagery. It was a deliberate decision to render the first line as ‘Come Sky give Ear’ rather than the more obvious ‘Come Heav’ns give Ear’.  Hebrew uses the same word, rendered as either by context, without differentiating between the different flavour of two words which in English have the same underlying meaning. The word rendered ‘earth’ is used both for the earth beneath us and the land as in the ‘land of Israel’.

Although the well known chorus has a simple, direct and valid message, with its context, the message is more complex and subtle. This version is in Double Common Metre. The ‘him’ in ll 14 and 16 is, of course, Jacob.:-

1. Come sky give ear to what I say: ~ come earth hear my mouth’s words.
2. May my voice fall as dew on grass: ~ as showers upon the swards.
3. For I’ll proclaim the LORD’s own name, ~ God’s all sufficiency.
4. Perfect his works, just in his ways: ~ our faithful Rock is he.

Without deceit, constant and just: ~ he’s upright in each thing.
5. Crooked and twisted, though are those ~ who should be his offspring.
6. Is this how you repay your LORD, ~ you fools devoid of sense,
Your father who created you ~ who placed you in your tents?

7. Remember former times, days when ~ God weighed out each domain:
Ask of your father; he’ll show you, ~ your elders will explain,
8. How God gave peoples their estates; ~ their boundaries he set,
Numbered according to the tribes ~ that Israel did beget.

9. For Jacob is the LORD’s own share ~ his treasure, his richesse,
10. Which he sustained in deserts drear, ~ in howling wilderness.
11. He shadowed, trained and cared for him ~ the apple of his eye,
As eagles shield their chicks, bear them ~ on their wings when they fly.

They shield them on their nests. Just so ~ did God lead him he knew.
12. No foreign god was by his side; ~ his LORD alone leads you.
Fed with the produce from the fields ~ set on the highest part.
To you his word is very near ~ to find in mouth and heart.

Although it is a belief that has been widespread, eagles do not carry their eaglets on their back in flight. There are familiar water birds, such as the Great Crested Grebe and the Mute Swan where the chicks ride on their parents’ backs in the water, but eagles do not do this.

The Tune

This canticle definitely requires a double metre tune. The one that will provided in the collection is yet another tune called Hereford, this one by Dr William Hayes (1708-77), and is below. Dr Hayes was Professor of Music at Oxford in the mid C18, and a keen promoter of Handel. It is in G Major.

Hereford (Hayes) in Hymn Format
Hereford (Hayes) in hymn format

This means that there are now three different tunes in the collection called Hereford. The one that will be most familiar is probably the one called in this collection Hereford (Wesley) by S. S. Wesley (1810-76).  It is in Long Metre.  It is often used for the hymn O thou who camest from above. In the collection, it is  in E♭ Major and is provided for the LM version of Psalm 107.  There is also Hereford (Ouseley) in Common Metre by Canon F.  A. G. Ouseley (1825-1889).  That one is in G Minor and is provided for Psalm 20. There is now this one.  I have therefore named it for the purpose of the collection Hereford (Hayes). It would be suitable for many other major key but thoughtful psalms and canticles.

Come Sky give ear also goes well to Old Magnificat.

Yet another Hereford

There is also another tune in Playford which is called Hereford.  It has died out, and seems to be unknown in modern use.  The small number of examples of it I have seen all have only three lines of harmony. However, it is an attractive tune. It is a pity not to use it.  So have added an alto line and made a few other changes.  It is below.  To add it to this collection, though, would mean four tunes with the same name.  As it is otherwise unknown, to avoid confusion with the other three tunes called Hereford, for this collection I have renamed it Mappa Mundi after the medieval map which is probably the treasure for which Hereford Cathedral is most famous. Like Hereford (Hayes) it is in G Major.

Mappa Mundi or Hereford (Playford) in Hymn Format
Mappa Mundi in hymn format

I have set it to Canticle 45 in CWDP,  which has the title there of Song of Judith, for once, a title I intend to retain.  It is Judith 16.13-16, a selection of verses from the triumphal song she sings with the people of Bethulia, her home town, after she has chopped off the head of Holofernes and her people have triumphed over the Assyrians. I suspect this may be one of the canticles in CWDP which is less often used.

The full song is Judith 16:1-17. So, like ‘Come sky give ear’ It is an extract from a longer original. If you are not familiar with the passage, perhaps because you come from a tradition that does not approve of the Deuterocanonical books, I would strongly recommend reading it. This rendering is in Common Metre.

1. To God, my Lord,  Almighty, great, ~ I shall sing a new song:
In glory true, invincible ~ and marvellously strong.

2. May all creation serve your name; ~ you spoke; all came to be.
3. Your Spirit you sent forth and each ~ was formed creatively.

3/4. None can resist your voice: at it ~ mountains and seas shall shake
4. Like water, peaks sway at their roots ~ like wax, rocks melt and quake.

5. But to those that fear you, you show ~ your mercy and kind touch.
Even the fat of burnt offerings ~ does not please you as much.

6. No sacrifice, though sweet the smell, ~ can please you but whoso
Fears you Lord shall forever stand ~ commended, blest and true.

The picture

Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes was a popular subject for Renaissance and Baroque painters both in Italy and the Low Countries.  There are well known examples from Caravaggio and Rembrandt. The painting above, though, which comes from Wikipedia, has an additional distinction. It is one of at least two on this theme by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c1656).  As her name indicates, like Judith, she too she was a woman, but more poignantly, she and her father had the courage to bring a case against the painter Agostino Tassi for rape.  Even compared with Caravaggio’s, it could be the most gruesomely realistic of the paintings of the subject from its period. Not only is there a lot of blood. Gentileschi’s Judith has the strong arms of a butcher’s assistant, and from a self portrait she painted, some resemblance to Gentileschi.  It is difficult not to conclude that her anger at her experience is reflected in this painting.

There is a slight element of compensatory justice that as a painter, Tassi is as good as forgotten, remembered only for his crime, while Artemisia Gentileschi remains a respected artist.

Song of the Sea

A very brief post. I’ve just come across this Youtube by Elihana Elia , an Israeli singer, which I’d like to share with you. Please click on the link. Obviously, I am a Christian. I hope I am sensitive to possible tension there might be in my linking it, but I hope she won’t mind. I think it’s good. I came across this by chance, and I don’t know anything about her at all, but I think it captures something of the exuberant joy and thankfulness of the original.

Miriam’s Song – Book 6

In Book 6 you’ll find ‘Miriam’s Song’ in DCM.  It is a selection of verses from Exodus 15, 1b-3, 6, 10, 13, 17, corresponding to CWDP Canticle 19, where its full title is A Song of Moses and Miriam. Strictly that is more correct. Moses and the people sing.  Miriam and her fellow women dance with tambourines.

It is a song of joy at God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from the pursuing army of Pharaoh, at the Red Sea, Ex 15:21 (NRSV),
“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”.

In CWDP it is recommended for mornings after Easter. What appears there, and in Book 6, is a selection, an abbreviation, of the original, which runs to 18 verses.  The full version is known as the Song of the Sea and at the moment, I am considering changing the title of the version in the collection in its next iteration to Song of the Sea.