Thursday, November 02, 2006

"For All the Saints..."

I didn't have a chance last night to post a brief commemoration of All Saints' Day. We'll be celebrating it this Sunday in our parish by focusing our minds and hearts on Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith.

It's really hard to choose which verses to share of William H. How's hymn, set to such amazing music by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Each verse seems important and helps the song to build to a powerful crescendo. I'm listening to a beautiful version of it as I type this, from the CD entitled A Vaughn Williams Hymnal, with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge singing. I love this arrangement, as sometimes the voices are acapella and at other times they're joined by rich swells of an organ. It makes me long (I must confess) to attend and participate in an elaborate festival eucharist in a cathedral. It's been a while since I've been at such a worship service.

Okay, I can't choose. I'm going to paste the whole thing below, and hope it's not infringing any copyright. To give full credit where credit is due, I'm pasting stanzas from

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Words: Will­iam W. How, in Hymns for Saint’s Days, and Other Hymns, by Earl Nel­son, 1864. Music: Sine Nomine, Ralph Vaugh­an Will­iams, in The Eng­lish Hymn­al (Lon­don: Ox­ford Un­i­ver­si­ty Press, 1906), num­ber 641


Erin said...

There's something really powerful about a massive choir harmonizing on music like this. Going to such a small church, I don't get to hear that too often and really appreciate it when I do.

Our anthem on Sunday is a medley of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and "I'll Fly Away". Should be pretty nice...

Beth said...

Wonderful sounding medley! Are you singing/playing these days?

Erin said...

I'm in the choir, but lately I usually am only able to be in church for Sunday school because of work. :-\ I'll be there this Sunday though!