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A new hymn pairing

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.

You can download this hymn already here.

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.