Monday, September 22, 2014

"O Christ Our Hope"

It's been a looong time since I did a hymn post. Yesterday I learned of a new hymn. It's "O Christ Our Hope, Our Heart's Desire." The words evidently come from as long ago as the seventh or eighth century in their Latin version and were translated by John Chandler, an Anglican priest, in the 1830's. Here are the words:

O Christ, our hope, our heart’s desire,
Redemption’s only spring!
Creator of the world art Thou,
Its Savior and its King.
How vast the mercy and the love
Which laid our sins on Thee,
And led Thee to a cruel death,
To set Thy people free.
But now the bands of death are burst,
The ransom has been paid,
And Thou art on Thy Father’s throne,
In glorious robes arrayed.
O may Thy mighty love prevail
Our sinful souls to spare;
O may we come before Thy throne,
And find acceptance there!
O Christ, be Thou our lasting joy,
Our ever great reward!
Our only glory may be it be
To glory in the Lord. 
All praise to Thee, ascended Lord;
All glory ever be
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Through all eternity.
I'm not sure what tune Chandler would have recommended that it be sung to, but it is now sometimes sung to a modified version of Handel's "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth," which I think is an ingenious idea. I can't find a performance of that tune, but click on the MIDI file for "Bradford" here and see the print version here. Of the tunes I have seen associated with it, this is my favorite.

I'm quite surprised that this didn't make it into the Anglican 1940 Hymnal, but I hope that church music leaders will consider introducing it, as it is worthy to be sung congregationally. The Handel tune may be a bit difficult for congregations because of the jump on "O Christ," but not significantly more difficult than many other tunes that congregations are able to sing, and if anyone has heard Handel's Messiah, the tune will already be somewhat familiar.


Kristor said...

The setting that leapt instantly to mind when I read the poem was St. Mag­nus, the tune customarily used in the 1940 Hymnal for "The Head that Once Was Crowned with Thorns" - a hymn with quite a similar theme.

Lydia McGrew said...

Yes, because it's 8686, a lot of tunes fit. That one would work well. So would St. Anne's ("O God Our Help in Ages Past").

yankeegospelgirl said...

The Star of the County Down would work as well.

Lydia McGrew said...

Right. That's common meter double, so you would have to double up the verses. I can hear the Gettys doing that!