Holy God, we praise Thy Name!

Leave a comment

communion-of-saintsThis is a well known hymn. It is based on the Ambrosian hymn Te Deum, a hymn of thanksgiving – here is a recording of Giovani Vianini jamming on the organ. But I’m wandering – this is the vernacular hymn of the week post.

The Te Deum was anonymously paraphrased into German but later attributed to Ignaz Franz, then translated into English by Clarence Walworth from New York. I’ve heard that it is the standard post-benediction hymn in the United States.

Liturgically, there are times when the Te Deum is not sung, in times with a more penitential flavour like Lent, so Holy God is not quite a “hymn for all seasons”. But pretty close.

Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Thou art King of glory, Christ:
Son of God, yet born of Mary;
For us sinners sacrificed,
And to death a tributary:
First to break the bars of death,
Thou has opened Heaven to faith.

From Thy high celestial home,
Judge of all, again returning,
We believe that Thou shalt come
In the dreaded doomsday morning;
When Thy voice shall shake the earth,
And the startled dead come forth.

*Therefore do we pray Thee, Lord:
Help Thy servants whom, redeeming
By Thy precious blood out-poured,
Thou hast saved from Satan’s scheming.
Give to them eternal rest
In the glory of the blest.*

Spare Thy people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us without sin today,
Never let us be confounded.
Lo, I put my trust in Thee;
Never, Lord, abandon me.

*This verse a later addition by Hugh T. Henry.

Here is the sheet music from the Vatican II hymnbook by Corpus Christi Watershed Holy God/Grosser Gott.

Here is my easy play version holyGod (with lilypond source: holyGodSource)

And the obligatory recording, in case you haven’t heard it already:


Firmly I Believe

Leave a comment

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.

O purest of creatures

Leave a comment

immaculate-heart-of-maryHere’s a hymn, the source of much consternation in the organ loft. Many people sing it to the tune of the Lourdes Hymn, but all hymnbooks set it to the German tune from the Paderborn Gesangbuch. Because hymnbook writers prefer the proper tune, but lazy pew potatoes go for the easy one.

Note, there are no “Ave”s in this one. That’s a Lourdes Hymn thing. Just a straight hymn to Our Lady. Written by the oratorian priest, Fr Frederick Faber. Famous for veering towards the sentimental side with his hymn writing. I’m sure he would have worn a surplice with a good 5 inches of lace at least.

O purest of creatures! sweet Mother, sweet Maid;
The one spotless womb wherein Jesus was laid.
Dark night hath come down on us, Mother, and we
Look out for thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

2 Deep night hath come down on this rough-spoken world.
And the banners of darkness are boldly unfurled;
And the tempest-tossed Church—all her eyes are on thee.
They look to thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

3 He gazed on thy soul, it was spotless and fair;
For the empire of sin, it had never been there;
None ever had owned thee, dear Mother, but He,
And He blessed thy clear shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

4 Earth gave Him one lodging; ’twas deep in thy breast,
And God found a home where the sinner finds rest;
His home and His hiding-place, both were in thee;
He was won by thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

5 Oh, blissful and calm was the wonderful rest
That thou gavest thy God in thy virginal breast;
For the heaven He left He found heaven in thee,
And He shone in thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.
Frederick William Faber, 1814–63

Here are my files – I’ve only typed up the soprano and bass lines for playing on the organ because I don’t do my regular practice.
Lilypond source and midi file: OPurestSource
And the printable pdf: OPurest

And here is a karaoke version with full organ and congregation joining in.

Who are these like stars appearing?


cartoo10215This Saturday is the feast of St Peter and St Paul. So I started hunting for a hymn for them. If you would like to pursue that, This Post looks great.

Instead I got sidetracked with a hymn for priest saints, which should be alright for the feast too.

Who are these like stars appearing,
These before God’s throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
Who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia! Hark, they sing,
Praising loud their heav’nly King.

These are they who have contended
For their Saviour’s honour long,
Wrestling on till life was ended,
Following not the sinful throng;
These who well the fight sustained,
Triumph through the Lamb have gained.

These, your priests, have watched and waited,
Offering up to Christ their will;
Soul and body consecrated,
Day and night to serve Him still:
Now in God’s most holy place
Blest they stand before His face.

More verses here but check the slight change in the last verse. I’m going with “your priests” from Fr Paul Newton’s hymn book Pange Lingua. I think it might be a case of Catholics adapting a Protestant hymn! Good to see it works both ways.

The tune is called All Saints. Get your sheet music and karaoke backing tracks from smallchurchmusic.com.

As for recordings, the tune is so cool, the organist tends to put the pedal to the metal and drown out the congregation. Which is fabulous when you’re singing along, but for learning the tune, you might like this one – different words.

Excerpts from When the Patriarch was returning:

Wondrous gift! The Word who fashioned
All things by His might divine,
Bread into His Body changes,
Into His own Blood the wine;
What though sense no change perceives,
Faith admires, adores, believes.

He who once to die a Victim
On the Cross did not refuse,
Day by day upon our altars,
That same Sacrifice renews;
Through His holy Priesthood’s hands,
Faithful to His last commands.

I have that down as an offertory, but might make a fine recessional for this Sunday.

And, of course, now, at the end, I stumble across the perfect article Not Your Grandmother’s–or Your Mother’s–Eucharistic Hymn.

I hope this tune adorns your internal soundtrack now for the weekend.

Hark! an awful voice is sounding

Leave a comment

WHole013This time picking a hymn for a feast day coming up this week: The Nativity of St John the Baptist. The timing matches in with the feasts of the Annunciation (when Elizabeth was in her 6th month) 25th March, and the Nativity of Our Lord – 25th December. Most saints’ feast days commemorate the day of their death (or birth into eternal life), except Our Lord, our Lady and St John the Baptist. What do they have in common? They were all born without original sin! St John Baptist was conceived with original sin, but his encounter with Jesus in utero was his own baptism.

The corresponding chant of the week post has an English hymn which is a better fit for the feast, but not as commonly sung in English. It tells more the story of the actual birth of St John. Another tack could have been to look at the Canticle the Bendictus.

Instead I’ve picked the first hymn in the Old Westminster Hymnal, a hymn more for Advent, but still a beautiful reflection on the role of St John the Baptist.

[audio: http://brandt.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/HarkAHerald.mp3%5D

Hark an awful voice

Hark, a herald voice is calling;
“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day.”

2 Startled at the solemn warning,
Let the earthbound soul arise;
Christ her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
Shines upon the morning skies.

3 Lo, the Lamb so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heav’n;
Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiv’n.

4 So when next He comes with glory,
Shrouding all the earth in fear,
May He then as our defender,
On the clouds of heav’n appear.

5 Honour, glory, virtue, merit,
To the Father and the Son,
With the co-eternal Spirit
While eternal ages run.

Tr. Edward Caswall, 1814–75

Clyde McLennan has some great backing files – make your own Karaoke mix!

This tune is also a great match for Cardinal Newman’s hymn Firmly I Believe.



Mary Immaculate

Leave a comment

tfpThis is one of my favourite hymns. Alright, I probably say that a lot, but I mean it. The words are from an Irish protestant minister called F. W. Wetherell, who I wrote about here. The tune is from the amazing Johann Sebastian Bach, another protestant. So this hymn sort of laid low in the times when Catholic hymnbooks only carried Catholic authors and composers. And it was too Marian for most Protestant hymnbooks too, so it sort of slid through the cracks.

The current liturgical calendar places the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Saturday following the Sacred Heart of Jesus – or last Saturday. The 1962 calendar places it on the 22nd August. Whichever way you go, any day is a good day to pray to Mary, our Mother in heaven.

Mary immaculate, star of the morning,
Chosen before the creation began,
Chosen to bring for thy bridal adorning,
Woe to the serpent and rescue to man.

2 Here in an orbit of shadow and sadness
Veiling thy splendour, thy course thou hast run;
Now thou art throned in all glory and gladness,
Crowned by the hand of thy Saviour and Son.

3 Sinners, we worship thy sinless perfection;
Fallen and weak, for thy pity we plead;
Grant us the shield of thy sovereign protection,
Measure thine aid by the depth of our need.

4 Frail is our nature and strict our probation,
Watchful the foe that would lure us to wrong;
Succour our souls in the hour of temptation,
Mary immaculate, tender and strong.

5 See how the wiles of the serpent assail us,
See how we waver and flinch in the fight;
Let thine immaculate merit avail us,
Make of our weakness a proof of thy might.

6 Bend from thy throne at the voice of our crying,
Bend to this earth which thy footsteps have trod;
Stretch out thy hand to us living and dying,
Mary immaculate, Mother of God.

F. W. Wetherell, 1829–1903

And here is the recording from my favourite CD:

Divine Love in a human heart

Leave a comment

This is a hymn by James McAuley, so I should ask permission before posting lyrics. There once was a webpage with all his poetry online by arrangement with the estate, but looks like it closed.

The music is by Richard Connolly.

It is in the old Living Parish Hymnbooks and Hymns for the Year of Faith. I’d love to see these reprinted.