Our opening hymn this week is actually of Dutch origin, written by Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig. Grundtvig earned his theology degree from the University of Copenhagen, but was not destined for the life of a pastor. He was ordained in 1811, but the outcry from two early, controversIal sermons caused him to abandon the pulpit in favor of a chaplaincy at a women’s home. However, he wrote profusely, producing works on Norse mythology and over 1,000 hymns. Grundtvig became a bishop in 1861, but never received a diocese. Carl Døving, translator of German and Scandinavian hymns, immigrated to America in 1890, graduated from Luther Seminary and Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. He served as pastor in Lutheran churches in Red Wing and Montevideo, Minnesota, and Brooklyn, New York, and was “city missIonary” to Chicago. Over 30 of his translations appear in the 1913 Lutheran Hymnary. Ludvig M. Lindeman was the final piece of this 'hymn puzzle' and wrote the tune. Lindeman studied both theology and music, and became an organist at Vor Frelsers Church in Oslo (the church was renamed to Oslo Domkirke (cathedral) in 1950). Son of a concert pianist, Lindeman was one of the leading Norwegian musicians of the 19th Century, and served as organist at Vor Frelsers Church for 47 years. He also collected almost 2,000 Norwegian folk tunes, publishing many in a 3-volume set (1853-1867).
One of our communion hymns this week, "Jesus Loves Me", brings back many fond memories of Sunday School. Our own children of GA sang it earlier this year. This well known Christian hymn is set to words by Anna Bartlett Warner. The lyrics first appeared as a poem in the context of a novel called “Say and Seal” written by Susan Warner and published in 1860. The tune was added in 1862 by William Batchelder Bradbury who found the text of "Jesus Loves Me" in this book, in which the words were spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child. Along with his tune, Bradbury added his own chorus "Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus Loves me..." After publication the song became one of the most popular Christian hymns in churches around the world.
Different stanzas, other than the first, often are substituted. The stanza about illness is usually omitted, to make the hymn less disturbing to children. There are many verses for this hymn online, some are comical, some sweet and yes some are more morbid but it’s worth taking a look. As a bit of popular culture trivia, this was apparently one of the final pieces Whitney Houston sang before her untimely death.
In honor of the Diamond Jubilee our Sending Hymn is a setting of OLD HUNDREDTH, which was also a hymn at the Thanksgiving Service on Tuesday at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. We typically associate this tune with the text for the Doxology but the text "All People That on Earth Do Dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice; him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell; come ye before him and rejoice" is fitting not only for a celebration of 60 years of dutiful service for all of us who choose to go forth in peace to do the will of God.
"Old 100th" or "Old Hundredth" is a hymn tune in Long Metre from Pseaumes Octante Trois de David (1551) (the second edition of the Genevan Psalter), and is one of the best known melodies in all Christian musical traditions. The tune is usually attributed to the French composer Loys Bourgeois (c.1510 – c.1560).
Although the tune was first associated with Psalm 134 in the Genevan Psalter, the melody receives its current name from an association with the 100th Psalm, in a paraphrase by William Kethe entitled All People that on Earth do Dwell. The melody is commonly sung with diverse other lyrics as well.
The Genevan Psalter was compiled over a number of years in the Swiss city of Geneva, a center of Protestant activity during the Reformation, in response to the teaching of John Calvin that communal singing of psalms in the vernacular language (French, in this case) is a foundational aspect of church life. This was in contrast to the prevailing Catholic practice at the time of sacred texts being chanted in Latin by the clergy only. Calvinist musicians including Loys Bourgeois supplied many new melodies, and adapted others from sources both sacred and secular. The final version of the psalter was completed in 1562. Calvin intended the melodies to be sung in plainsong during church services, but harmonizations were provided for singing at home (!).
The original lyrics set to this tune, from the Genevan Psalter, are taken from Psalm 134. Old 100th is commonly used to sing (and is named for) the version "All People That on Earth Do Dwell," made from Psalm 100, which originated in the Anglo-Genevan Psalter (1561) and is attributed to the Scottish clergyman William Kethe. Kethe was in exile at Geneva at this time, as the Scottish Reformation was only just beginning. This version was sung at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, with harmonization and arrangement by the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.
A hymn commonly sung to Old 100th is "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow," often known simply as The Doxology, written in 1674 by Thomas Ken, a clergyman in the Church of England. This hymn was originally the final verse of a longer hymn entitled "Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun," though it is most commonly sung by itself as a doxology.
In my house growing up we sang a table prayer set to this tune and I found a 2 verse version in a piece written by Garrison Keillor for Thanksgiving:
"O Lord, we thank Thee for this food,
For every blessing, every good.
For earthly sustenance and love
Bestowed on us from heaven above.
Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy children bless and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee."