Friday, August 31, 2012

O Word of God Incarnate

Here is another hymn! These will be a little more infrequent because I have started school once again and I no longer have much time for leisure, unfortunately. But, when I can bring you information on hymns I will do so with much happiness!

Title: O Word of God Incarnate


Numeric Outline: 76.76 D

Composer: Neuvermehrtes Gesanbuch, Meiningen (1693)

Author: William W. How (1823-1897)

     being considered the "Poor Mans Bishop," William Walsham How was offered many prestigious positions in churches across London, but he decided he was going to do the dirty work, and be a minister to the churches that were often times found int he slums. How was often seen taking public transportation from place-to-place, because it would allow him to get to know the people who would potentially be in his Perish. Not only was How considered rebellious because of his unwillingness to take calls at prestigious churches, he was also known as the preacher who did not fight against the ever growing belief in the theory of evolution. How admitted in his 1887 sermon entitled, "The Bible and Science," that there were many pieces of theoretical fact that could not be argued against. He also added that a person could not state that "[a]ll such-like speculations are straight against God's word and therefore utterly untrue (Hawn)." This was something that not all people were willing to accept, but one man, Thomas Henry Huxley, Grandfather of Aldous Huxley, did agree with How. T. H. Huxley was known as "Darwin's Bulldog," when it came to the theory of evolution and was also known as a high ranking member of the scientific debate in London. In his book Science and the Christian Tradition (Published in 1902 Posthumously), Huxley actually quotes How's sermon several times.
     Born on December 13th, 1823 to William Wybergh How in Shrewsbury, England, William Walsham How was educated in the nearby school of Shrewsbury School and Wadham College, Oxford, England graduating with a B.A. He was finally licensed to preach in 1846, William Walsham began to take holy orders in the following order: Curate of St. George's, Kidderminster, England, 1846; and of Holy Cross in Shrewsbury, England, 1848. In 1851 is was preferred to the Rectory of Wittington, England Diocese of St Asaph, and becomign Rural Dean in 1853 and finally Honorary Canon of the Cathedral in 1860. After serving there for several years, he was finally appointed Rector of St. Andrew's Undershaft, London and became the Suffragan Bishop of East London under the new title of Bishop of Bedford. Finally in 1888, one year after his famous sermon, "The Bible and Science," he became the Bishop of Wakefield. William Walsham How published only one known collection of hymns with another prominent preacher of his time, Rev. Thomas Baker Morell, under the title of Psalms and Hymns , Compiled by the Reverand Thomas Baker Morell, M.A.,...and the Reverand William Walsham How, M.A. (1854). Ten years later the book was republished in larger format and eventually a Supplement was added in 1867 to complete the book.
     The text for this hymn is based off of Psalm 119: 105, which reads  “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” The text uses several different examples from the gossip including the ever famous John 1:1, John 1:4, and John 14:6. The Tune "Munich," has a very bright and long history. The first appearance of the tune actually appears back in 1593 in Dresden, Germany, set to the text of "Wir Christenluet." The most commonly known version of the tune in the Lutheran world comes from the 1693 version found from Meiningen Gesanbuch. The latest change in the tune comes from the world famous composer Felix Mendelssohn and his adaptation of the tune as a quartet "Cast Thy Burden Unto the Lord," in his Oratorio Elijah (1846). Mendelssohn grew up in a traditional Jewish home, but eventually his family was baptized into the Lutheran church and took on the last name Bartholdy. At the age of nine, Mendelssohn had performed in his first public event ever, and 11 years later, at the age of 20, he conducted the first performance of St. Matthew's Passion since Bach's death in 1750. By doing this, Mendelssohn is credited with bringing the music of Bach back into popularity.

The Text:

1. O Word of God incarnate, 
 O Wisdom from on high, 
 O Truth unchanged, unchanging, 
 O Light of our dark sky: 
 we praise you for the radiance 
 that from the hallowed page, 
 a lantern to our footsteps, 
 shines on from age to age. 

2. The church from you, our Savior, 
 received the gift divine, 
 and still that light is lifted 
 o'er all the earth to shine. 
 It is the sacred vessel 
 where gems of truth are stored; 
 it is the heaven-drawn picture 
 of Christ, the living Word. 

3. The Scripture is a banner 
 before God's host unfurled; 
 it is a shining beacon
 above the darkling world. 
 It is the chart and compass 
 that o'er life's surging tide, 
 mid mists and rocks and quicksands, 
 to you, O Christ, will guide. 

4. O make your church, dear Savior, 
 a lamp of purest gold, 
 to bear before the nations 
 your true light as of old. 
 O teach your wandering pilgrims 
 by this their path to trace, 
 till, clouds and darkness ended, 
 they see you face to face.


The Hymn:

Below I will post the Music, I suggest listening to the video while reading along with the music. If you can't read music, don't worry at all, just follow the text underneath and hopefully it will make sense!


Julian, John. "William Walsham How." - The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. <>.

Church, Christian Reformed. "MUNICH (Mendelssohn)." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. <>.

Hawn, C. Michael. " The United Methodist Portal." Â The United Methodist Portal. History of Hymns, 24 July 2009. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. <>.

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