Here is another hymn for the wonderful time after Easter! This hymn is dedicated to a very good friend of mine, Matt!
Title: Sing with All the Saints in Glory
Tune: Hymn to Joy
Meter: 22.214.171.124. D
Composer: Arranged from Ludwig Van Beethoven (16th December, 1770- March 26th, 1827), arranged by Edward Hodges, (20th July, 1796- 1st September, 1867)
Author: William J. Irons (12th September, 1812- 18th June, 1883)
The first time this hymn appeared was in 1873, where it was published in the first edition of William J. Irons’ Psalms and Hymns for the Church (London, 1873; second edition, 1875). This collection of hymns was supposed to provide hymns for offering, epistles, and gospels, and also was labeled for use as an Advent and Lenten hymn. Though these are the official uses that are named for the hymn, often times this hymn is sung for Easter. The hymn “Sing with All the Saints in Glory” is found in several different denominations of the Christian faith and each one has the hymn listed in a different section of the hymnal. The Catholic hymnal Gather, from GIA Publications (Chicago, Illinois, 1994) has the hymn listed under “Easter (#442),” the United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville, Tennessee, 1989) has the hymn listed under “New Heaven and New Earth (#702),” and the Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2006) has the hymn listed under “Festivals and Commemorations (#426).” Though each denomination, Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist, have this hymn in their collections, the Methodist church has been publishing this hymn for the longest time in their hymnals. “Sing with All the Saints in Glory” has been published in a Methodist hymnal since 1878, only three years after the second edition of the hymns original publication. Though “Sing with All the Saints in Glory” seems to fit best in the category of “Easter,” the meaning can be flexible, and therefore can be placed in several different categories depending on the season. Though the original version of the hymn has four stanzas, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship, takes the first two lines of the last two stanzas, and combines them to create on final stanza, leaving the hymn with only three total stanzas.
Born in England in 1812, William J. Irons was the son of Joseph Irons, who happened to be a good friend of John Newton (See Amazing Grace). Irons was educated at Queens college, Oxford, where he graduated with a BA in 1833, and eventually, a DD in 1854 (Westermeyer, 2010, p.246). In 1835, Irons took Holy Orders which led him to become Incumbent of St. Peter’s in Walworth in 1837. Throughout his life, Irons held many different positions at several churches, including Vicar of Barkway, Incumbent of Brompton, Rector of Wadingham, and in 1872, he became Rector of St. Mary-Woolnoth, which the position formerly was held by John Newton himself (Hymnary.org/persons/Irons_WJ, para. 1). W.J. Irons played a small, but prominent role in the ecclesiastical debates that were raging on during his time. He published numerous documents on the topic in the form of sermons, pamphlets, and letters, which all accumulated into his work, The Bampton Lectures, which was written in 1870. The work covered Christianity as it was taught by St. Paul. W.J. Irons’ hymn writing began during his curacy at St. Mary Newington, from 1835-1837, and continued until his death in 1883 (Hymnary.org/persons/Irons_WJ, para. 1). Many of Irons’ hymns were first printed on broadsheets (large sheets of paper with only one side printed on, often times referring to a newspaper that is more serious than some), and were published in R.T. Rowe’s (Rector of Lea, Lincolnshire) Hymns for the Christian Seasons, (Gainsburgh, 1st ed. 1854)(Gainsborough, written in Westermeyer’s Hymnal Companion), and also in his own collection. Iron’s published a metrical psalter in 1857 and also 100 hymns in Hymns for the Church (1866).
Perhaps one of the reasons for the great popularity of this hymn can be traced to the very recognizable tune written by none other than Ludwig Van Beethoven. Though he did not do so intentionally, Beethoven is one of only a few composers who wrote hymn tunes (Ralph Von Williams, and Orlando Gibbons being an exception). The tune “Hymn to Joy” was originally composed by Beethoven for J.C.F. von Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” Which Beethoven wrote for a full chorus in the fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony (Westermeyer, 719). The first performance of the chorus was in 1824, when Beethoven had gone completely deaf. Though the full piece was not performed until 1824, the tune can be traced to sketches that extend as far back as 1797. The tune to “Ode to Joy” was eventually adapted as a hymn tune by Elam Ives (1802-1862) in his Mozart Collection (New York, 1846), and by Edward Hodges (1796-1867) in his The Trinity Collection of Church Music (New York, 1864)(Westermeyer, p. 719). One of the more famous hymns that this tune was published with was Henry Van Dyke’s “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (Evangelical Book of Worship, #836). The hymn paired with the tune in The Hymnal (1911) of the Presbyterian Church.
The tune “Hymn to Joy” follows the form of AA’BA’, which is very simple, and common for the time in which it was written. The melody is simple, and is built off of the first five notes of a diatonic scale, with the exception of one note that dips below the tonic, but the melody quickly returns to the first five notes. The difficulty of this hymn, for many congregations, lies within the slight syncopation of the beginning of the last line, or the second statement of A’. Because most congregations cannot manage this syncopation, most hymnals have published the tune with the last line square, instead of syncopated. According to Paul Westermeyer, the removal of the syncopation “drains the tune of its life (Westermeyer, p. 720).” Westermeyer believes that with a slight coaching of the congregation, or with the organist playing the melody through as an introduction, the congregation should be able to pick up on the syncopation and sing it through with no trouble. Because many hymnals have been publishing the current version of the hymn, it is difficult for those hymnals who publish the original to catch wind and become popular.
Beethoven was a very interesting man, with lots of history to his name. Though I could go on about his story, I will keep it brief for the sake of your time (and mine too! This is a busy semester!). Ludwig Van Beethoven grew up in a very poor and unstable home in Bonn, Germany. Both Beethoven’s Father and Grandfather were musicians as well (Westermeyer, p. 720). The first time Beethoven suited music was with his father (who was abusive to him as a child), who was a court singer looking to exploit his son’s musical abilities. Later, Beethoven would continue his musical studies with Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798). The next few years of Beethoven’s life seemed to follow with one position after the other. At the age of eleven, he was substitute court organist; at age twelve, Beethoven was accompanist for the court orchestra; at age fourteen, he was assistant court organist, and from 1788-1792, a violist in the theater orchestra. After these positions, Beethoven studied with famous composer Franz Joseph Haydn, and several other composers throughout Vienna, although he was not always happy with his teachers. Eventually, Beethoven became known as Europe’s favorite and most eccentric composer, pianist, and improviser. Beethoven is best known for being the important link between the Classical period and the Romantic period, having lived in the transition between the two. Though Beethoven was a brilliant composer, starting in the year 1798, he began losing his hearing (the cause is not known, but it is known that he suffered from severe Tinnitus, or a high pitched ringing in the ears), and eventually he became deaf all together. Despite his limitations due to hearing, Beethoven arguably did some of his best work after his hearing was gone completely (his Ninth Symphony being one of his works composed completely deaf).
1. Sing with all the saints in glory,
sing the resurrection song!
Death and sorrow, earth's dark story,
to the former days belong.
All around the clouds are breaking,
soon the storms of time shall cease;
in God's likeness we, awaking,
know the everlasting peace.
2. O what glory, far exceeding
all that eye has yet perceived!
Holiest hearts, for ages pleading,
never that full joy conceived.
God has promised, Christ prepares it,
there on high our welcome waits.
Every humble spirit shares it;
Christ has passed th'eternal gates.
3. Life eternal! heaven rejoices;
Jesus lives, who once was dead.
Join we now the deathless voices;
child of God, lift up your head!
Patriarchs from the distant ages,
saints all longing for their heaven,
prophets, psalmists, seers, and sages,
all await the glory given.
4. Life eternal! O what wonders
crowd on faith; what joy unknown,
when, amidst earth's closing thunders,
saints shall stand before the throne!
O to enter that bright portal,
see that glowing firmament;
know, with thee, O God Immortal,
"Jesus Christ whom thou has sent!"
My Take on the Text:
This hymn is one of great praise. The whole setting of the text is for praising God and all of the glories he has promised us in heaven above! The love that God displays for us is never ceasing and never failing, and we will live to see it in our lives each and every day! This hymn not only covers the things that we are given here on earth, but it also tells of the promises that Christ has given us through his death on the cross. I can see where each different denomination has reasoning to place this hymn in different categories. The song fits Easter time because it discusses Christ defeating the grave, and rising up to be with God; the song fits New Heaven and New Earth, because it talks about the old Earth being defeated by the glory of God; the song fits festivals/commemorations, because it is glorious, and sings the praises of things still to come in heaven above! Though the meaning and category of this hymn is fairly scattered, there is no doubt that this hymn is glorious and full of life! I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me through the rest of my days on Earth, and I look forward even more to seeing the glories he has promised me in Heaven above when my time here has come to a close!
|if you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video and follow along!|
"Sing, with All the Sons of Glory." Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
Julian, John. "William J. Irons." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
"HYMN TO JOY." Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
Westermeyer, Paul. "Festivals, Commemorations." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 246-47. Print.