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Origins of Songs

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by Joshua Rhodes, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed
    1707 A.D.

    After his graduation from college, Isaac Watts returned to Southampton, England, and spent two years writing hymns for Above Bar Congregational Church. He then moved to London to tutor children in a wealthy family of Dissenters. While there he joined Mark Lane Independent Chapel. Soon he was asked to be a teacher in the church, and in 1698, he was hired as associate pastor. There, on his twenty-fourth brithday, he preached his first sermon. In 1702, he became senior pastor of the church, a position he retained the rest of his life. He was a brilliant Bible student, and his sermns brought the church to life.

    In 1707, his Hymns and Spiritual Songs was published. Isaac had written most of these hymns in Southampton while in late teens and early twenties. Included was a hymn now considered the finest hymn ever written in the English language. It was based on Galatians 6:14: "But God forbid it that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Originally the first stanza said: When I survey the wondrous cross / Where the young Prince of Glory died... In an enlarged 1709 edition, Watts rewrote the lines to say:

    When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of Glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.


    Also included in the 1707 hymnbook was "Heavenly Joy on Earth," better known today as, "Come We That Love the Lord," or "We're Marching to Zion."

    Another hymn was, "Godly Sorrow Arising from the Sufferings of Christ," better known as: "Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed." This hymn later played a major role in the conversion of a great American hymnist. In 1851, Fanny Crosby, 31, attended a revival service at John Street Methodist Church in New York. "After a prayer was offered," she recalled, "they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, 'Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed' and when they reached the third line of the fifth stanza, 'Here, Lord, I give myself away,' my very soul was flooded with celestial light."

    How right that Watts should, long after his death, play a part in winning to Christ the author of a new generation of hymns and gospel songs!
     
  2. Pete

    Pete New Member

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    The only place I have seen the above claim is on the web, so I do put a question mark or two on it's authenticity. Good recommendation if it is true, not that When I Survey needs any help [​IMG]

    Pete
     
  3. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Very true, Pete. "When I Survey" is one of my favorite hymns of all time. Thanks for reading this thread... I didn't know anyone else was really watching. [​IMG]
     
  4. Pete

    Pete New Member

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    Joshua, yeah mate. I've been reading and enjoying [​IMG] There's an old saying: "Silence is agreement!" [​IMG]

    Actually I think the full saying should be "Silence is agreement...especially in a group of Baptists" :D

    The other day I was going to post a bit about Charles Wesley's Jesus, Lover Of My Soul. However I got distracted by something else, then forgot where I found the info. Oh well, I'm sure to run across it again [​IMG]

    Pete
     
  5. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    I Sing the Mighty Power of God
    1715 A.D.

    As Isaac Watts quietly pastored Mark Lane Chapel in London, the growing popularity of his hymns was causing a tempest. "Christian congregations have shut out divinely inspired Psalms," one man complained, "and taken in Watts' flights of fancy." The issue of singing hymns versus Psalms split churches, including the one in Bedford, England, once pastored by John Bunyan.

    The controversy jumped the Atlantic. In May, 1789, Rev, Adam Rankin told the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, meeting in Philadelphia: "I have ridden horseback all the way from my home in Kentucky to ask this body to refuse the great and pernicious error of adopting the use of Isaac Watts' hymns in public worship in preference to the Psalms of David."

    We don't know Isaac's reactions. Dr. Samuel Johnson later reported that "by his natural temper he was quick of resentment; but, by his established and habitual practice, he was gentle, modest, and inoffensive." But in 1712, Isaac suffered a breakdown from which he never fully recovered. He asked his church to discontinue his salary; but they raised it and hired a co-pastor who assume the bulk of the pastoral duties. Watts remained as pastor the rest of his life, preaching whenever he could.

    A wealthy couple in the church, Sir THomas and Lady Abney, invited him to spend a week on their estate. Isaac accepted - and lived with them until his death 36 years later. He enjoyed the children in the home, and in 1715, he published Divine and Moral Songs for Children. It sold 80,000 copies in a year and has been selling ever since. In his preface, he said, "Children of high and low degree, of the Church of England or Dissenters, baptized in infancy or not, may all join together in these songs. And as I have endeavored to sink the language to the level of a child's understanding... to profit all, if possible, and offend none.

    One hymn in this volume, intended for children, became popular with adults. Entitled, "Praise for Creation and Providence," it said:

    I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
    That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
    I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
    The moon shines full at God's command, and all the stars obey.
     
  6. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Jesus Shall Reign
    1719 A.D.

    While living on the Abney estate, Isaac devoted himself to a massive project, adapting the Book of Psalms for Christian worship. In 1719, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament was published. In it, Watts worked his way through most of the 150 Psalms, paraphrasing them, injecting them with New Tastament truth, and framing them in singing form.

    He explained his approach with these words: "Where the Psalmist describes religion by the dear of God, I have often joined faith and love to it. Where he speaks of the pardon of sin through the mercies of God, I have added the merits of a Savior. Where he talks of sacrificing goats or bullocks, I rather choose to mention the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God. Where He promises sabundance of wealth, honor, and long life, I have changed some of these typical blessings for grace, glory, and life eternal, which are brought to light by the gospel, and promised in the New Testament."

    Several of these have become favorites that have withstood the ages. His rendition of Psalm 72, for example, has been called the first missions hymn: "Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun."

    This hymn played a role in the life of Eric Liddell, Scottish Olympic hero of the 1924 games in Paris, who became a missionary to China with teh London Missionary Society. His departure from Edinburgh was never-to-be-forgotten. His friends escorted him in a festooned carriage from Scottish Congregational Church to Waverly Station where multitudes had gathered. Before boarding the train, Eric spoke to the crowds, saying he was going abroad to endeavor to do his part in trying to unify the countries of the world under Christ. "Let our motto be 'Christ for the World, for the World Needs Christ,'" he shouted. He then led in two verse of "Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun."

    If, on that memorable day, Eric had sang all of the verses of "Jesus Shall Reign," he would have come to this one:

    The saints shall flourish in His days,
    Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
    Peace, like a river, from His throne
    Shall flow to nations yet unknown.
     
  7. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    O God, Our Help in Ages Past
    1719 A.D.

    Another hymn in Isaac Watts' 1719 Psalms of David Imitated is based on Psalm 90, and is perhaps Watts' most bracing hymn. It was played on the radio by the BBC as soon as World War II was declared, and later sung at the funeral service of Winston Churchill. Some of the original verses have fallen into disuse, but as you read them, think of the ailing hymnist, sitting at the desk on his room on the Abney estate, pouring over Psalm 90 and penning these words:

    Our God, our help in ages past, / Our hope for years to come, /
    Our shelter from the stormy blast, / And our eternal home.

    Under the shadow of Thy throne / Thy saints have dwelt secure; /
    Sufficient is Thine arm alone, / And our defense is sure.

    Before the hills in order stood, / Or earth received her frame, /
    From everlasting Thou art God, / To endless years the same.

    Thy Word commands our flech to dust, / "Return, ye sons of men:" /
    All nations rose from earth at first, / And turn to earth again.

    A thousand ages in Thy sight / Are like an evening gone; /
    Short as the watch that ends the night / Before the rising sun.

    The busy tribes of flesh and blood, / With all their lives and cares, /
    Are carried downwards by the flood, / And lost in following years.

    Time, like an ever rolling stream, / Bears all its sons away; /
    They fly, forgotten, as a dream / Dies at the opening day.

    Like flowery fields the nations stand / Pleased with the morning light; /
    The flowers beneath the mower's hand / Lie withering ere 'tis night.

    Our God, our help in ages past, / Our hope for years to come, /
    Be Thou our guard whil troubles last, / And our eternal home.


    P.S. We also have a great Christmas carol from this 1719 collection. As Watts studied Psalm 98, especially verses 4-9, he worded them in this way: Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!
     
  8. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    God is the Refuge of His Saints
    1719 A.D.

    In appearance, Isaac Watts was... well, odd. Standing five feet in his stockings, he had an outsized head and prominent nose, and his skin was tallowy. One woman, Elizabeth Singer, having never met him, fell in love with him through his hymns and poems, but when she saw him face-to-face, she was unsettled. He fell in love with her, but she couldn't bring herself to marry him, later saying, "I only wish I could admire the casket (jewelry box) as much as I admire the jewel."

    In 1739, Watts suffered a stroke that left him able to speak but unable to write. A secretary was provided to transcribe his dictated poems and books, but over the next several years he became increasingly weak and bedridden. He died on November 25, 1748, and is buried in Bunhill Fields in London.

    In addition to his 600 hymns, he wrote 52 other works, including a book of logic widely used in universities, and books on grammar, astronomy, philosophy, and geography. But it's his hymns - most of them written in his early twenties - for which we're most grateful.

    Here'a a lesser known Watts hymn. It is his rendition of Psalm 46, the same Scripture that had inspired Luther's "A Mighty Fortress." Watts takes a gentler approach:

    God is the refuge of His saints, / When storms of sharp distress invade; /
    Ere we can offer our complaints, / Behold Him present with His aid.

    Loud may the troubled ocean roar; / In sacred peace our souls abide; /
    While every nation, every shore, / Trembles, and dreads the swelling tide.

    There is a stream, whose gentle flow / Supplies the city of our God, /
    Life, love, and joy, still guiding through, / And wat'ring our divine abode.

    That sacred stream - Thy holy Word - / That all our raging fear controls; /
    Sweet peace Thy promises afford, / And give new strength to fainting souls.

    Zion enjoys her Monarch's love, / Secure against a threatening hour; /
    Nor can her firm foundations move, / Built on His truth, and armed with power.
     
  9. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Am I a Soldier of the Cross?
    1724 A.D.

    This Isaac Watts hymn appeared after most of his others, not in a collection of hymns, but in a published volume of his sermons. It followed a sermon entitled "Holy Fortitude," based on 1 Corinthians 16:13: "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."

    Over a century later, this song played a role in American hymnology, bringing together the powerful gospel team of evangelist D. L. Moody and soloist Ira Sankey.

    It happened this way. By the 1870s, D. L. Moody had become a world-famed evangelist, but he hadly needed a musician to lead singing at his meetings. On a Saturday night in 1870, he preached at a convention in Indianapolis. At the last minute, a tax collector named Ira Sankey was asked to lead singing.

    After the service, Moody assaulted Sankey with questions, "Where are you from? Are you married? What is your business?"

    Sankey replied that he lived in Pennsylvania, was married, had two children, and worked for the government, whereupon Moody said abruptly, "You will have to give that up."

    Sankey, dumbfounded, asked "What for?"

    "To help me in my work. I have been looking for you for the last eight years."

    The next day, Sankey received a card from Moody, suggesting they meet on a certain corner that evening at six. Sankey arrived first. When Moody showed up, he said nothing but entered a nearby store for a large box. He asked Sankey to stand on the box and sing.

    Sankey dutifully hoisted himself up and sang Isaac Watts' Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb, / and shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name?

    Workers, going home from mills and factories, were arrested by Sankey's beautiful voice, and the crowd grew. Moody ascended the box and preached for twenty-five minutes before announcing that the meeting would continue in the Opera House. The Opera House was soon packed, and Moody preached the gospel with great power. Finally, he closed the meeting saying, "Now we must close, as the brethren of the convention wish to come in to discuss the question, 'How to reach the masses!'"

    That was the beginning of three remarkable decades. Moody and Sankey, soldiers of Christ, crisscrossed the world, singing and preaching and reaching the masses as few others, before or since.
     
  10. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    And Can It Be That I Should Gain?
    1738 A.D.

    Charles Wesley was born just before Christmas in 1707. He was premature and nether cried nor opened his eyes. His mother, Susanna, kept him tightlly wrapped in wool until his actual due date, whereupon he opened his eyes and cried.

    At age eight, he was taken to London to attend Westminster School. At thirteen, he became a King's Scholar at Westminster, and upon graduating, Charles enrolled at Oxford. He was nineteen and full of life. He later said, "My first year at college I lost in diversions."

    During his second year at Oxford, he grew serious about spiritual things. Neither he nor his brother, John, had yet received Christ as Savior, but they began seeking to live the Christian life so methodically they were dubbed "Methodists" by fellow students.

    Their studies completed, the brothers colunteered to go to Georgia, a new colony in America for those in Britain's debtors' prisons, founded by Colonel James Ogelthorpe. But as a missionary, Charles was an utter failure. He was demanding and autocratic, and he insisted on baptizing infants, not by sprinkling, but by immersing them three times in succession. One angry woman fired a gun at him.

    Charles left America ill and depressed. Some time later, John also returned in low spirits. Finding themselves in spiritual crisis, the brothers began attending meetings led by the Moravian Christian, Peter Boehler. Finally, on Sunday, May 21, 1738 Charles, 31, wrote, "I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood."

    John came to Christ about the same time, saying, "I felt my heart strangely warmed."

    On Tuesday, May 23, Charles wrote in his journal, "I began a hymn upon my conversion." We aren't certain which hymn he meant, but many historians think it was "And Can It Be," because of the vivid testimany of verse 4:

    Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
    Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray -
    I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
    My chains fell off, my heart was free,
    I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
     
  11. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
    1739 A.D.

    The Wesley brothers sent word of their conversion to their mother, Susanna, who didn't know what to make of it. "I think you have fallen into an odd way of thinking," she replied. "You say that till within a few months you had no spiritual life and no justifying faith.... I heartily rejoice that you have attained to a strong and lively hope in God's mercy through Christ. Not that I can think that you were totally without saving faith before, but it is one thing to have faith, and another thing to be sensible we have it."

    Well, Charles was now very sensible of having it. His life changed, and he gained victory over both his temper and his unfortunate drinking habit. "I was amazed to find my old enemy, intemperance, so suddenly subdued, that I almost forgot I was ever in bondage to him."

    He also began to spread the news of what had happened to him. "In the coach to London," he wrote, "I preached faith in Christ. A lady was extremely offended... (and) threatened to beat me. I declared I deserved nothing but hell; so did she; and must confess it, before she could have a title to heaven. This was most intolerable to her."

    New vitality came into Charles' public preaching. He discontinued the practice of reading his sermons, and began preaching extemporaneously.

    He found a fruitful arena for ministry at the infamous Newgate Prison, and allowed himself to be locked up with condemned men on nights before their executions, that he might comfort and witness to them during their final hours.

    As the first anniversary of his conversion approached, Charles wrote an eightee-stanza hymn describing his praise to the Lord. It was titled, "For the Anniversary Day of One's Conversion," and the first stanza bagan: "Glory to God, and praise, and love...." Verse seven began, "O for a thousand tongues to sing," inspired by a statement Charles had once heard: "Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all."

    Beginning with a 1767 hymnbook, the seventh stanza was made the first, and when John Wesley compiled his Collection of Hymns in 1780, he chose this for the first hymn in the book. Congregations today usually sing verses seven, eight, nine, and ten of Wesley's original, which we know today as "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing."
     
  12. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Keep the posts coming, some of us are reading, even if not commenting.
     
  13. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
    1739 A.D.

    Upon his conversion, Charles Wesley immediately began writing hymns, each one packed with doctrine, all of them exhibiting strength and sensitivity, both beauty and theological brawn. He wrote constantly, and even on horseback his mind was flooded with new songs. He often stopped at houses along the road and ran in asking for "pen and ink."

    He wrote over 6,000 hymns during his life, and he didn't like people tinkering with the words. In one of his hymnals, he wrote: "I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honor to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome to do so, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them, for they are not really able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them these two favors: either to let them stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men."

    But one man did the church a great favor by polishing up one of Charles' best-loved hymns. When Charles was 32, he wrote a Christmas hymn that began:

    Hark, how all the welkin rings,
    "Glory to the King of kings;
    Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
    God and sinners reconciled!"
    Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
    Join the triumph of the skies;
    Universal nature say,
    Christ the Lord is born to-day!"


    The word "welkin" was an old English term for "the vault of heaven." It was Charles' friend, evangelist George Whitefield, who, when he published this carol in his collection of hymns in 1753, changed the words to the now-beloved, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
     
  14. DanielFive

    DanielFive New Member

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    I'll second that. [​IMG]

    Thanks Joshua.
     
  15. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Christ the Lord is Risen Today
    1739 A.D.

    John and Charles Wesley soon found themselves out of favor with many fellow Anglican ministers who spurned their fiery evangelistic preaching. Many pulpits were closed to them.

    A friend from his Oxford days, George Whitefield, 22, who was having the same trouble, began preaching in the open air. In London, he asked Charles to stand with him as he preached to thousands in the open air at Blackheath, and Charles, too, got a vision for reaching the multitudes.

    He made his first attempt in the outskirts of London. "Franklyn, a farmer, invited me to preach in his field," he wrote. "I did so to about 500. I returned to the house rejoicing." Soon he was preaching to thousands. "My load was gone, and all my doubts and scruples. God shone upon my path; and I knew this was His will concerning me."

    A man named Joseph Williams heard Charles in Bristol: "I found him standing on a table-board, in an erect posture... surrounded by, I guess, more than a thousand people, some of them fashionable persons, but most of the lower rank of mankind. He prayed with uncommon fervency... He then preached about half an hour in such a manner as I have scarce ever heard any man preach.... I think I never heard any man labor so earnestly to convince his hearers they were all by nature in a sinful, lost, undone, damnable state; that notwithstanding, there was a possibility of their salvation, through faith in Christ... All this he backed up with many texts of Scripture, which he explained and illustrated, and then by a variety of the most forcible motives, arguments and expostulation, did he invite, allure, quicken, and labor, if it were possible, to compel all, and every of his hearers, to believe in Christ for salvation."

    Charles Wesley still preaches today in much teh same way through his ageless hymns which are sung around the world each Sunday. Perhaps his most exhuberant anthem is the one he simply called, "Hymn for Easter Day," published in 1739. It originally consisted of eleven stanzas. The "Alleluia's" were added later, but appropraitely, for this is a hymn one never gets tired of singing:

    Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
    Sons of man and angels say, Alleluia!
    Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
    Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
     
  16. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Jesus, Lover of My Soul
    1740 A.D.

    Many stories have arisen around the writing of "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," but they all appear to be fictional. We don't know the exact occasion for his composition, but it was written shortly after Charles Wesley's conversion, and its words seem to anticipate the huge crowds, lawless mobs, midnight escapes, traveling dangers, and flea-infested beds he would encounter in coming years. Wesley's life, in brief, can be summed up as follows:

    As the Methodist movement spread through England, Charles traveled horseback from place to place, an itinerant, homeless evangelist. His fiery preaching incited revival in some people and outrage others.

    In the midst of all this, his dear mother, Susanna, died on July 23, 1742. Her last words were, "Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God." Later, preaching in Wales, Charles met Sally Gwynne, a beautiful girl half his age. A courtship followed, and Charles wanted to propose, but he was virtually penniless with no way of supporting a wife.

    That's when he decided to publish his Hymns and Sacred Poems, as well as his journals and sermons, hoping the royalties would provide an income. Charles and Sally were married on April 8, 1749, Charles noting: "Not a cloud was to be seen from morning till night. I rose at four, spent three and a half hours in prayer or singing, with my brother.... At eight I led Sally to church.... It was a most solemn season of love!"

    They left immediately on a preaching tour, and Charles continued his itinerant ministry until 1756, when, at age 49, exhausted, he and Sally settled down. Charles busied himself, preaching, visiting, counseling, fretting about his three unsaved children, trying to keep Methodism within the Church of England, and giving unsolicited advice to his brother, John. All the while, he worked tirelessly on his hymns and poems.

    By early 1788, Charles was bedfast, not from sickness but from a lifetime of fatigue. By March, too weak to write, he dictated his last hymn to Sally:

    In age and feebleness extreme, Who shall a sinful worm redeem?
    Jesus, my only hope Thou art, strength of my failing flesh and heart;
    Oh, could I catch a smile from Thee, and drop into eternity!
     
  17. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    "Hallelujah" Chorus from THE MESSIAH
    1741 A.D.

    His father tried to discourage his musical interests, preferring that he enter the legal profession. But it was the organ, harpsichord, and violin that captured the heart of young George Frederic Handel. Once, accompanying his father to the court of Duke Johann Adolf, George wandered into the chapel, found the organ, and started improvising. The startled Duke exclaimed, "Who is this remarkable child?"

    This "remarkable child" soon began composing operas, first in Italy, then in London. By his 20s, he was the talk of England and the best paid composer on the planet. He opened the Royal Academy of Music. Londoners fought for seats at his every performance, and his fame soared around the world.

    But the glory passed. Audiences dwindled. His music became outdated, and he was thought of as an old fogey. Newer artists eclipsed the aging composer. One project after another failed, and Handel, now bankrupt, grew depressed. The stress brought on a case of palsy that crippled some of his fingers. "Handel's great days are over," wrote Frederick the Great, "his inspiration is exhausted."

    Yet his troubles also matured him, softening his sharp tongue. His temper mellowed, and his music became more heartfelt. One morning Handel received by post a manuscript from Charles Jennens. It was a word-for-word collection of various biblical texts about Christ. The opening words from Isaiah 40 moved Handel: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people...

    On August 22, 1741, he shut the door of his London home and started composing music for the words. Twenty-three days later, the world had Messiah, a three-hour oratorio based on the texts he had received. "Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not," Handel later said, trying to describe the experience. Messiah opened in London to enormous crowds on March 23, 1743, with Handel leading from his harpsichord. King George II, who was present that night, surprised everyone by leaping to his feet during the Hallelujah Chorus. No one knows why. Some believe the king, being hard of hearing, thought it was the national anthem, while others believed that he thought it was the last piece and the end of the work.

    No matter - from that day audiences everywhere have stood in reverence during the stirring words: Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth... And He shall reign forever and ever!

    Handel's fame was rekindled, and even after he lost his eyesight, he continued playing the organ for performances of his oratorios until his death in London, April 14, 1759.
     
  18. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    O Come, All Ye Faithful
    1743 A.D.

    John Francis Wade, author of this hymn, was hounded out of England in 1745. He was a Roman Catholic layman in Lancashire; but because of persecution arising from the Jacobite rebellion, streams of Catholics fled to France and Portugal, where communities of English-speaking Catholics appeared.

    But how could he, a refugee, support himself? In those days, the printing of musical scores was cumbersome, and copying them by hand was an art. In the famous Roman Catholic College and Ministry Center in Douay, France, Wade taught music and became renowned as a copyist of musical scores. His work was exquisite.

    In 1743, Wade, 32, produced a copy of a Latin Christmas carol beginning with the phrase Adeste Fidelis, Laeti triumphantes. At one time historians believed he had simply discovered an ancient hymn by an unknown author, but most scholars now believe Wade himself composed the lyrics. Seven original hand-copied manuscripts of this Latin hymn have been found, all of them bearing Wade's signature.

    John Wade passed away on August 16, 1786, at age 75. His obituary honored him for his "beautiful manuscripts" that adorned chapels and homes.

    As time passed, English Catholics began returning to Britain, and they carried Wade's Christmas carol with them. More time passed, and one day an Anglican minister named Rev. Frederick Oakeley, who preached at Margaret Street Chapel in London, came across Wade's Latin Christmas carol. Being deeply moved, he translated it into English for Margeret Street Chapel. The first line of Oakeley's translation said: "Ye Faithful, Approach Ye."

    Somehow, "Ye Faithful, Approach Ye," didn't catch on, and several years later Oakeley tried again. By this time, Oakeley, too, was a Roman Catholic priest, having converted to Catholicism in 1845. Perhaps his grasp of Latin had improved, because as he repeated over and over the Latin phrase Adeste Fidelis, Laeti triumphantes he finally came up with the simpler, more vigorous O Come, All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant!

    So two brave Englishmen, Catholics, lovers of Christmas and lovers of hymns, living a hundred years apart, writing in two different nations, combined their talents to bid us come, joyful and triumphant, and adore Him born the King of angels.

    O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
     
  19. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

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    Wow, I'm at the top! I wasn't expecting that! Hope you guys find this subject as interesting as I do.

    When Morning Gilds the Skies
    1744 A.D.

    "From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD's name is to be praised," exclaims Psalm 113:3. That's the theme behins this anonymous Catholic hymn, "Beim fruhen Morgenlicht," which first appeared in the German hymnbook Katholisches Gesangbuch in 1744.

    It was translated into English a hundred years later by Edward Caswell, a Roman Catholic priest. Edward had grown up in an Anglican parsonage in Yately, England, where his father was a Church of Engladn minister. Following in his father's footsteps, Edward became an Anglican curate in Stratford-sub-Castle, Wiltshire. But in 1847, he converted to Catholicism. He delighted in translating ancient hymns from Latin into English and is the translator who gave us St. Bernard's "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee."

    In translating "When Morning Gilds the Skies," he rendered the verses freely and even added some of his own. Those who love this hymn as much as I do will be pleased to learn the original English version had twenty-eight (fourteen double) stanzas. Here are some new ones for you to sing:

    When you begin the day, O never fail to say, / May Jesus Christ be praised! /
    And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice, / May Jesus Christ be praised!

    Whene'er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell, / May Jesus Christ be praised! /
    O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings, / May Jesus Christ be praised!

    Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place; / May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last / May Jesus Christ be praised!

    When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs: / May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call, / May Jesus Christ be praised!

    When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs, / May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast, / May Jesus Christ be praised!

    Sing, sun and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face, / Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
    God's whole creation o'er, for aye and evermore / Shall Jesus Christ be praised!
     
  20. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    The Unclouded Day

    This was a favorite of one of my mother's older brothers, and we sang it at his funeral. It was written by Josiah Kelley Alwood (b. 1828 - d. 1909).

    "Ordained a minister in the church of the United Brethren in Christ, he spent many years as a circuit rider, traveling on horseback to his many appointments. He would be gone from his family for weeks at a time, holding revival meetings and lecturing on Christian doctrine...Returning home from a preaching appointment on a cloudless moonlight night, the words of this hymn came to him as he rode alone on horseback. The next morning he wrote down the words and picked out the melody on a little Estey parlor organ. Later he met J. F. Kinsey who harmonized the tune and sent it to the publisher. - Hymns of Our Faith, William J. Reynolds"

    O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
    O they tell of a land far away;
    Where the tree of life in eternal bloom,
    Sheds its fragrance on the unclouded day.
    O the land of cloudless day,
    O the land of an unclouded sky;
    O they tell me of a home where no storm-clouds rise,
    O they tell of an unclouded day.
     
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