Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hyfrydol and Hanover

Westminster Abbey
I love the old hymns. I have attempted to teach my kids a new one per month since they were rather little. Usually I teach them my favorites. We have traditionally sung them acapella, pitched where my lower voice can reach, but recently we have started to learn them with the piano. This month we have been working on two hymns-Love Divine, All Love Excelling and Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim. Both are robust hymns. Robust hymns tend to be my favorites. The ones that you sing with gumption.=) (I have very few favorite hymns that are of a non-robust nature.=))Love Divine can be sung to different tunes, but we are learning it to Hyfrydol. Hyfrydol is an meter. It was composed by Rowland H. Pritchard. Rowland was a Welshman who wrote this tune in 1830, before he was 20 years old. Pretty cool. The melody is rather stirring, but the four part harmony is amazing. And every part is pretty distinct, which (I think) makes them easier to learn.
Ye Servants of God is a more obscure hymn. The only place I have ever sung it is at BSF. The lyrics are by Charles Wesley. The music is by William Croft. The tune is named Hanover. You may have actually sung the more familiar O Worship the King, to this tune. William Croft is quite the famous fellow. He was a composer and organist in the late 1600s and early 1700s. He wrote music for the funeral of Queen Anne and for the coronation of King George II. His most famous piece is St. Anne, set to Isaac Watt's poem, O God our Help in Ages Past. William Croft was the organist at Westminster Abbey for over 20 years. And this man wrote the wonderful tune to the hymn we are learning. When I find out all this background on hymns, it inspires me. It makes me feel like I am part of of grand community-aka the universal church. What a privilege! Anyway, here are Charles Wesley's words to encourage your heart...

Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,
and publish abroad His wonderful name;
That name all victorious of Jesus extol:
His kingdom is glorious, He rules over all.

God ruleth on high, almighty to save,
and still He is nigh, His presence we have.
The great congregation in triumph shall sing,
ascribing salvation to Jesus our king.

Salvation to God, who sits on the throne!
Let all cry aloud and honor the son.
The praises of Jesus the angels proclaim,
fall down on their faces, and worship the Lamb.

Then let us adore, and give Him His right-
all glory and power, all wisdom and might.
All honor and blessing, with angels above,
and thanks never ceasing and infinite love.

William Croft

An addendum to this song. The tune is called Hanover, after King George II of the house of Hanover. This song is about God ruling, and about us giving God His just due. Also, we know this King George as the one who began the tradition of standing when the Hallelujah Chorus is sung. He was King of the British empire, but he realized there is a much higher king. Kind of a cool "connecting the dots" thing.

The great congregation His triumph shall sing...PTL! That includes me!