As we move closer to publishing our print hymnal, Hymns to the Living God, I want to continue to highlight some of the new and unique selections that you will both find in the hymnal and can download for free even now.
One of the unique hymns about which I am most pleased is not a new hymn, but a new pairing of text and tune.
In 1916, English composer C. Hubert H. Parry composed a beautiful choral anthem called “Jerusalem,” using a poem by William Blake based on an apocryphal story about Jesus traveling to England and the hope that one day he will return and set up the New Jerusalem there. The anthem has become a sort of patriotic favorite for Great Britain (it was even sung at William and Kate’s wedding).
The tune Parry composed is stunning. It achieves the rare combination of serene majesty that few tunes do. You can listen to the choral version here:
Ryan Martin and I have long wanted to pair this with a fitting text. Several years ago we used this tune with Watts’s text “Jesus Shall Reign” at a music camp we ran at Bethany Bible Church in Hendersonville, NC. It worked, but “Jesus Shall Reign” is so well known sung to DUKE STREET, and the syllabic stress of “Jesus” at the beginning feels a bit awkward.
We then realized that Charitie Bancroft’s 1863 “Before the Throne of God Above” fit perfectly with this tune. Most of the hymn tune versions of Parry’s “Jerusalem” are melody only, so Ryan did a fabulous job adapting the choral version into a 4-part hymn tune to fit with Bancroft’s text.
I’m really pleased with the result and hope this will be a lasting text/tune pairing.