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Notes on the Notes – August 26, 2018

This week will be continuing to explore the Book of Ruth, Chapter 4.

We will be singing:

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You” (VU #232)

“Joyful, joyful we adore you God of glory, life and love;
Hears unfold like flowers before you, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the gloom of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.

All your works with joy surround you, earth and heaven reflect your rays,joyful
Stars and angels sing around you, centre of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain, sound their praise eternally.

You are giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Source of grace and fount of blessing, let your light upon us shine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus, which the morning stars began;
God’s own love is reigning o’er us, joining people hand in hand.
Ever singing march we onward, victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph son of life.”

This hymn of joy celebrates the constancy of God’s love for and in creation.  The words are not a translation of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” but were written in 1907 by Henry van Dyke as a gift to his host, James Garfield, president of Williams College, Massachusetts (and later president of the United States), while van Dyke was a guest preacher at the college.  The text was altered in the interest of inclusivity when it was published in Voices United.  Beethoven’s chorale theme from the final movement of his Symphony No. 9, Op. 125, was the tune which van Dyke had in mind when he wrote the text.  It had been arranged as a hymn tune in 1846 by Edward Hodges, an organist from Bristol.

Over the years, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” has remained a political protest anthem and a celebration of music. The song has been widely used,  from demonstrators in Chile singing during demonstration against the Pinochet dictatorship, Chinese student broadcast at Tiananmen Square, to the concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Daiku (Big Ninth) concerts in Japan every December.

Hear the hymn at the Royal Albert Hall in London:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMY3ivdNzwE

Hear Michael W. Smith sing they hymn at:  https://youtu.be/NHm_p7xj5uQ

See Libera perform the song at:  https://youtu.be/MAkXHhs9vOc

“Each Blade of Grass” (MV #37)

“Each blade of grass, ev’ry wing that soars,
The waves that sweep across a distant shore,yin-yang-byjimthompson

Make full the circle of God.
Each laughing child, ev’ry gentle eye, a forest lit beneath a moon-bright sky,
Make full the circle of God.

Each silent paw, ev’ry rounded stone, the buzz that echoes from a honeyed comb,
Make full the circle of God.
Each fire-brimmed star, ev’ry outstretched hand,
The wind that leaps and sails across the land,

Make full the circle of God.

Each icy peak, ev’ry patterned shell, the joyous chorus that the dawn foretells,
Make full the circle of God.
Each cosmic hue, ev’ry creature’s way, all form the beauty of this vast array,
Making full the circle of God.”

This hymn by Keri K. Wehlander was written in 2005.  It is a simple list of everyday things in God’s Creation that we sometimes miss or forget to be thankful for, yet which when joined together complete the circle of creation.  The melody, RHODE ISLAND, is taken from The United States Sacred Harmony and was adapted by Linnea Good in 2005.

“Amazing Grace” (VU #266)amazing grace

“Amazing grace!  how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed! 

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” 

“Amazing Grace” was written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725-1807), published in 1779.  Containing a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed (forced into service involuntarily) into the  Royal Navy, and after leaving the service became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion.  However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.

Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have simply been chanted by the congregation. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns, but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States however, “Amazing Grace” was used extensively during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than 20 melodies, but in 1835 it was joined to a tune named “New Britain” to which it is most frequently sung today.

“Amazing Grace” is “without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns,” and it is estimated that it is sung 10 million times a year.

See 7-yr old Rhema Marvanne sing the hymn at:  https://youtu.be/DDDlxmsciqY

See Il Divo in concert at:  https://youtu.be/GYMLMj-SibU

“Blest Be the Tie That Binds” (VU #602)

“Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
The unity of heart and mind is like to that above.

Before our Maker’s throne we pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes, each other’s burdens bear;
And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.

This glorious hope revives our courage on the way;
That we shall live in perfect love in God’s eternal day.”

This familiar hymn was written in 1782.  John Fawcett was an English Baptist pastor, school master, and author.  He spent his entire ministry in Wainsgate, Yorkshire, anblest be the tie that bindsd most of his hymns were written to follow his sermons.  He published this hymn in his Hymns Adapted to the Circumstances of Public Worship and Private Devotion.   It is alleged that he wrote the text after a last-minute decision not to leave his pastorate to go to a church in London.  The tune, arranged by Lowell Mason, is attributed to Johann G. Naegeli, the Swiss music publisher and educator who promoted the system of music instruction devised by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.

Watch the group “Sisters” sing this hymn in four different styles at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No56NKsN6pg

Hear an instrumental rendition of the hymn at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTJ0T6-O9CY

Hear an a cappella choral version at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNOfw1NVAyo

Categories: Notes on the Notes