CatechisminPcs56The words for this hymn are found in Cardinal Newman’s poem the Dream of Gerontius. It is the prayer of a soul preparing for death. Later in the poem the angels sing another of Cardinal Newman’s famous hymns, Praise to the Holiest. It is a fantastic read.

It also gives something like a chorus to this hymn:

Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus,
De profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus,
Parce mihi, Domine.

This chorus is given first and last and in the middle. A rough translation would be Holy Mighty One, Holy God, out of the depths I cry to There. Have Mercy, my Judge, spare me, Lord.

Edward Elgar made the poem into an oratorio, which is why most places use his tune, Drakes Broughton. It can be a majestic tune, but can be prone to plodding or even dragging.

I have enjoyed singing Firmly I Believe to the tune some call Omni Die, which sounds like a reference to the popular Marian hymn, Daily, daily sing to Mary.  Here’s my easy organ music:

However you sing it, call to mind the profession of faith of a soul on the brink of eternity.

Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
In that manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.

Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church as His creation,
And her teachings are His own.

And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.

Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and Heaven,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

That second last verse is often left out – it’s more specific to the departing soul.

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