Archive for the ‘John Ellerton’ Tag

God the Omnipotent! King, Who Ordainest   2 comments

Apotheosis of War

Above:  Apotheosis of War, by Vasily Vereshchagin

Image in the Public Domain

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This is a hymn for use in time of war.  Sadly, we human beings keep acting is ways which keep the sentiments of the hymn current.

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This is one of those great Anglican contributions to English-language hymnody.

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PART THE FIRST:  THE BEGINNING

The story begins with Henry Fothergill Chorley (1808-1872), a Quaker-born novelist, playwright, libretticist, and literary and music critic in London, England, the United Kingdom.  In 1842 he published a hymn, “God, the All-Terrible! Thou Who Ordainest.”  My sources identified the the publication as having occurred in Part Music (1842), by John Pike Hullah (1812-1884).  A search at hymnary.org led me to my reprint of the Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes (Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Congregational Church, Brooklyn, New York, 1855), where I found these verses:

1.  God, the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest

Thunder Thy clarion, and lightning Thy sword;

Show forth Thy pity on high where Thou reignest,

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

2.  God, the Omnipotent! mighty Avenger,

Watching invisible, judging unheard;

Save us in mercy, O save us from danger,

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

3.  God, the all-merciful! earth hath forsaken

Thy ways all holy, and slighted Thy word;

But not Thy wrath in its terror awaken,

Give to us pardon and peace, O Lord.

4.  So will Thy people with thankful devotion,

Praise Him who saved them from peril and sword;

Shouting in chorus, from ocean to ocean,

Peace to the nations, and praise to the Lord.

(Hymn #1101)

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PART THE SECOND:  UNITARIANS DURING THE CIVIL WAR

Hymns of the Spirit (American Unitarian Association, 1864), included an abbreviated and different version of the text, starting with the second stanza.  Thus the hymn became “God, the Omnipotent! Mighty Avenger!”  The context of the U.S. Civil War was evident:

1.  God the Omnipotent! mighty Avenger!

Watching invisible, judging unheard!

Save Thou our land in the hour of her danger,

Give to us peace in Thy time, O Lord!

2.  Thunder and lightnings Thy judgment have sounded;

Letters of flame have recorded Thy word,

‘Only in righteousness true peace is founded’:

Give us that peace in Thy time, O Lord!

3.  So shall the people, with thankful devotion,

Praise Him who saved them from peril and sword;

Shouting in chorus, from ocean to ocean,–

‘Peace to the nation, and praise to the Lord!’

(Hymn #262)

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PART THE THIRD:  ENTER JOHN ELLERTON

In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), John Ellerton (1826-1893), a priest of The Church of England and author of no fewer than 86 hymns, wrote “God the Almighty One, Wisely Ordaining,” based on Chorley’s hymn.  The text debuted in Robert Brown-Borthwick’s Select Hymns for Church and Home (The Church of England, 1871).  I found the original version of that hymn via Google Books.

1.  God the Almighty One, wisely ordaining

Judgments unsearchable, famine and sword;

Over the tumult of war Thou are reigning;

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord!

2.  God the All-righteous One! man hath defied Thee;

Yet to eternity standeth Thy word;

Falsehood and wrong shall not tarry beside Thee;

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord!

3.  God the All-pitiful, is it not crying,

Blood of the guiltless like water outpoured?

Look on the anguish, the sorrow, the sighing;

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord!

4.  God, the All-wise! by the fire of Thy chastening

Earth shall to freedom and truth be restored;

Through the thick darkness Thy kingdom is hast’ning,

Thou wilt give peace in Thy time, O Lord!

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PART THE FOURTH:  THE JOINING AND SUBSEQUENT VARIATIONS AND ALTERATIONS

The first joining of the Chorley and Ellerton texts occurred in the 1874 revision of Church Hymns (The Church of England, 1871), as one can read for oneself by following the hyperlink and seeking hymn #262.  Since then many hymnals have contained various composites of the Chorley and Ellerton texts, frequently with alterations to them.  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) contained the hymn, but listed it as “God, Lord of Sabaoth, Thou Who Ordainest.”  The hymn was “God the All-Merciful! Earth Hath Forsaken” in the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) but “God the Omnipotent! King, Who Ordainest” in the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  The influential Hymnal (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1895) and its successor from 1911 listed the hymn as “God, the All-Terrible,” but The Hymnal (1933) changed the title to “God the Omnipotent.”  Among more conservative Presbyterians (especially in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America) who use either the 1961 or the 1990 versions of the Trinity Hymnal, God remains “All-terrible.”  God was “All-terrible” in The Methodist Hymnal (Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1905), but “Omnipotent” in The Methodist Hymnal of 1935 (Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Protestant Church, and Methodist Episcopal Church, South; later The Methodist Church, 1939-1968).  As late as The Hymnal of 1918 (Episcopal Church, authorized in 1916) God was “All-Terrible,” but the deity was “Omnipotent” instead in The Hymnal 1940 (published in 1943).  The consensus among hymnal committees is that God is “Omnipotent,” not “All-terrible.”

The variation on the hymn in The Hymnal 1982 (Episcopal Church, 1985) contains four stanzas–two from Chorley, two from Ellerton, and all of them altered.  This is the version I sing in church:

1.  God the Omnipotent! King, who ordainest

thunder thy clarion, the lightning thy sword;

show forth thy pity on high where thou reignest:

give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

2.  God the All-merciful! earth hath forsaken

thy ways all holy, and slighted thy word;

bid not thy wrath in its terrors awaken:

give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

3.  God, the All-righteous One! earth hath defied thee;

yet eternity standeth thy word,

falsehood and wrong shall not tarry beside thee:

give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

4.  God the All-provident! earth by thy chastening

yet shall to freedom and truth be restored;

through the thick darkness thy kingdom is hastening:

thou wilt give peace in thy time, O Lord.

Hymn writer Brian Wren (1936-) wrote of hymns in Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song (Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2000, page 297):

I have shown that congregational songs are communal.  Though they usually originate from particular authors, their primary purpose is to give shared expression to shared experience, not parade the author’s personality.  Because they are communal a faith community may, in principle amend them.

The story of “God the Omnipotent!” fits that statement well.

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PART THE FIFTH:  DROPPING THE HYMN

Denominations revise their official hymnals from time to time.  In so doing they add some texts and remove others.  Here is a partial list of denominations which have removed “God the Omnipotent!” (however they have listed it) from their official hymnody as of 2015, based on hymnals of which I own physical copies:

  1. the American Baptist Churches U.S.A., during their transition from the Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970) to no official hymnal;
  2. the Anglican Church of Canada, during the transition from The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada (1971) to Common Praise (1998);
  3. the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, during the transition from The Covenant Hymnal (1973) to The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (1996);
  4. the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, during the transition from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006);
  5. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod, during the transition from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996);
  6. the Free Methodist Church of North America and the Wesleyan Church, during their transition from Hymns of Faith and Life (1976) to no official hymnal;
  7. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, during its transition from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to Lutheran Worship (1982) and the Lutheran Service Book (2006);
  8. the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), by way of its predecessors, the Presbyterian Church in the United States and The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., during the transition from The Hymnbook (1955) to The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972);
  9. the Reformed Church in America, during its transition from Rejoice in the Lord:  A Hymn Companion to the Scriptures (1985) to Lift Up Your Hearts:  Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (2013);
  10. the Southern Baptist Convention, during the transition from Baptist Hymnal (1956) to Baptist Hymnal (1975); the text is absent even from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship‘s Celebrating Grace Hymnal (2010);
  11. the Unitarian Universalist Association, sometime after Hymns of the Spirit (American Unitarian Association, 1864) and before Hymns of the Spirit (American Unitarian Association and Universalist Church of America, 1937);
  12. The United Methodist Church, during its transition from The Hymnal of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1957) and The Methodist Hymnal/The Book of Hymns (1966) to The United Methodist Hymnal:  Book of United Methodist Worship (1992); and
  13. the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, during the transition from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal (1993); neither is the hymn present in Christian Worship:  Supplement (2008).

That list covers a wide theological range.  So does the list of denominations which have retained it–from The Episcopal Church to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to the United Church of Christ to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America.  The list of denominations which have never added it to their official hymnody is also diverse, ranging from the Christian Reformed Church of North America to the Church of Nazarene.  Sometimes the presence or absence of the hymn indicates more about tastes in hymnody and worship style than about theology.

Another piece of supporting evidence for that conclusion comes from two non-denominational Evangelical hymnals Tom Fettke edited:  The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (1986) and The Celebration Hymnal:  Songs and Hymns for Worship (1997).  The former contains the hymn which is the subject of this post, but the latter does not.  A Victorian hymn set to the majestic former Russian national anthem does not fit with contemporary worship, with its seven-eleven songs, does it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 21, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF J. B. PHILLIPS, BIBLE TRANSLATOR AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Posted July 21, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), Community and Country 1800s, Desperation and Suffering 1800s, Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970), Hymns of the Spirit for Use in the Free Churches of America (1937), Lent/Confession of Sin 1800s, Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Service Book and Hymnal (1958), The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada (1971), The Hymnal (1895), The Hymnal (1911), The Hymnal (1933), The Hymnal 1916 (1918), The Hymnal 1940 (1943), The Hymnal 1982 (1985), The Hymnbook (1955), The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), The Methodist Hymnal (1905), The Methodist Hymnal (1935), The Methodist Hymnal (1966), The United Methodist Hymnal (1989)

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We Sing the Glorious Conquest Before Damascus Gate   2 comments

La_conversion_de_Saint_Paul_Giordano_Nancy_3018

Above:  The Conversion of Saint Paul (1690), by Luca Giordano (1634-1705)

Hymn Source = The Hymnal 1916 (1918), The Episcopal Church

Words (1871) by John Ellerton (1826-1893), a priest of The Church and England, and a writer and translator of hymns

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1.  We sing the glorious conquest

Before Damascus Gate,

When Saul, the Church’s spoiler,

Came breathing threats and hate;

The ravening wolf rushed forward

Full early to the prey;

But lo! the Shepherd met him,

And bound him fast to-day.

2.   O glory most excelling

That smote across his path!

O light that pierced and blinded

The zealot in his wrath!

O voice that spake within him

The calm, reproving word!

O love that sought and held him

The bondman of his Lord!

3.  O Wisdom ordering all things

In order strong and sweet,

What nobler spoil was ever

Cast at the Victor’s feet?

What wiser master-builder

E’er wrought at thine employ

Than he, till now so furious

Thy building to destroy?

4.  Lord, teach thy Church then lesson,

Still in her darkest hour

Of weakness and of danger,

To trust thy hidden power:

Thy grace by ways mysterious

The wrath of man can bind,

And in thy boldest foeman

Thy chosen saint can find.

The Hours of Day are Over   1 comment

Above:  Sunset

Image Source = Geraldbrowne

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Knysnasunset.jpg)

Words by John Ellerton (1826-1893), an English priest

Hymn Source = Common Service Book (1917), of the predecessor bodies of the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962)

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1.  The hours of the day are over,

The evening calls us home;

Once more to Thee, O Father,

With thankful hearts we come.

For all Thy countless blessings

We praise Thy holy Name,

And own Thy love unchanging,

Through days and years the same.

2.  For this, O Lord, we bless Thee,

For this we thank Thee most:

The cleansing of the sinful,

The saving of the lost,

The Teacher ever present,

The Friend for ever nigh,

The home prepared by Jesus

For us above the sky.

3.  Lord, gather all Thy children

To meet Thee there at last,

Where earthly tasks are ended,

And earthly days are past;

With all our dear ones round us

In that eternal home,

Where death shall no more part us,

And night shall never come.

Now the Laborer’s Task is O’er   5 comments

Above:  A Church Building and the Adjacent Graveyard

Image Source = Wikipedia

Words by John Ellerton (1826-1893), an English priest

Hymn Source = Common Service Book (1917), of the predecessor bodies of the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962)

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1.  Now the laborer’s task is o’er;

Now the battleday is past;

Now upon the farther shore

Lands the voyager at last.

Father, in Thy gracious keeping

Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.

2.  There the tears of earth are dried,

There its hidden things are clear,

There the work of life is tried

By a juster Judge than here.

Father, in Thy gracious keeping

Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.

3.  There the ransomed souls, that turn

To the Cross their dying eyes,

All the love of Christ shall learn

At His Feet in Paradise.

Father, in Thy gracious keeping

Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.

4.  “Earth to earth, and dust to dust,”

Calmly now the words we say,

Left behind we wait in trust

Till the Resurrection day.

Father, in Thy gracious keeping

Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.

At sea the following should be sung instead of the last stanza:

5.  Laid in ocean’s quiet bed,

Calmly now the words we say,

“Till the sea gives up her dead;”

Till the Resurrection day.

Father, in Thy gracious keeping

Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.

God of the Living   2 comments

Above:  Funeral Procession

Image Source = Wikipedia

Words by John Ellerton (1826-1893), an English priest

Hymn Source = Common Service Book (1917), of the predecessor bodies of the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962)

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1.  God of the living, in Whose eyes

Unveiled Thy whole creation lies,

All souls are Thine; we must not say

That those are dead who pass away,

From this our world of flesh set free;

We know them living unto Thee.

2.  Released from earthly toil and strife,

With Thee is hidden still their life;

Thine are their thoughts, their works, their powers,

All Thine, and yet most truly ours;

For well we know, where’er they be,

Our dead are living unto Thee.

3.  Not split like water on the ground,

Not wrapped in dreamless sleep profound,

Not wandering in unknown despair,

Beyond Thy voice, Thine arm, Thy care;

Not left to lie like fallen tree;

Not dead, but living unto Thee.

4.  Thy Word is true, Thy will is just;

To Thee we leave them, Lord, in trust,

And bless Thee for the love which gave

Thy Son to fill a human grave,

That none might fear the world to see

Where all are living unto Thee.

5.  O Breather into man of breath,

O Holder of the keys of death,

O giver of the life within,

Save us from death, the death of sin;

That body, soul, and spirit be

For ever living unto Thee!

O Strength and Stay Upholding All Creation   1 comment

Above:  Sunset

Image Source = Chad Teer

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunset_in_Coquitlam.jpg)

Words by John Ellerton, an English priest

Hymn Source = Common Service Book (1917), of the predecessor bodies of the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962)

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1.  O Strength and Stay upholding all creation,

Who ever dost Thyself unmoved abide,

Yet day by day the light in due gradation

From hour to hour through all its changes guide;

2.  Grant to life’s day a calm unclouded ending,

An eve untouched by shadows of decay,

The brightness of a holy death-bed blending

With dawning glories of the eternal day.

3.  Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,

Through Jesus Christ, Thy co-eternal Word,

Who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living,

Now and to endless ages art adored.

This is the Day of Light   1 comment

Above:  St. Julian’s Episcopal Church, Douglasville, Georgia, September 12, 2010

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

(https://picasaweb.google.com/114749828757741527421/StJulianSDouglasville#5516164870436850450)

Words by John Ellerton (1826-1893), an English priest

Hymn Source = Common Service Book (1917), of the predecessor bodies of the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962)

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1.  This is the day of light:

Let there be light today;

O Dayspring, rise upon our night,

And chase its gloom away.

2.  This is the day of rest:

Our failing strength renew:

On weary brain and troubled breast

Shed Thou Thy fresh’ning dew.

3.  This is the day of peace:

Thy peace our spirits fill;

Bid Thou all ill and discord cease,

The waves of strife be still.

4.  This is the first of days:

Send forth Thy quickening breath,

And wake dead souls to love and praise,

O Vanquisher of death!