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Anglicans Online last updated 8 December 2013
In June 2012 we asked you to choose one hymn they would take to a remote island. You could choose only one. After compiling the results, here are the top 10 hymns. Why not the top 20? The votes after the first top ten were scattered too much to arrive a a definitive 'next 10' list. In November 2003, we asked the same question. Those earlier results are at the bottom of the page.
in almost ten years? 'Amazing Grace' is gone. (One reader
wrote: 'If I ever hear Amazing Grace again, I shall go
quite mad'.) Cwm Rhondda not only makes its first
appearance — as Jehovah or Redeemer — it
vaults to a number one spot. 'King of Glory, King of
Peace', surprisingly perhaps, enters the Top 10. 'I sing
a song of the saints of God' disappears and barely gets
a vote. And 'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross' drops
out of sight. The loves — both excelling and coming
— continue to show their durability. And 'The Day Thou
Gavest' — even with its echoes of empire — makes
|Hymn||Tune, composer, year||Author or translator, year||Comments|
out of nowhere . . . the Welsh triumph!
Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah
|Cwm Rhondda, John Hughes, 1905, but a surprising number of other tunes. We suspect its Rhondda that pushes Guide to the top of the charts, though.||William
Williams, called the "[Isaac] Watts of Wales" (1717-1791).
He lapsed from the CofE to become a Calvinist Methodist.
He wrote several texts, one of which begins unpromisingly:
'The enormous load of human guilt'. Guide Me's actual first
line is Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch.
Me is published in — wait
for it — 1507 hymnals. That's one thousand,
five hundred, and seven hymnals. Who knew there
were that many?
3 in 2003; moved up a place.
'Be thou my vision'
folk melody. 'SLANE
is an old Irish folk tune associated with the ballad
'With My Love Come on the Road" in Patrick W. Joyce's Old
Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). It became a hymn tune
when it was arranged by David Evans (PHH 285) and set to
the Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision" published in
the Church Hymnary (1927)'.
into English by Mary E. Byrne, in “Eriú,” Journal
of the School of Irish Learning, 1905, and put into
rhyme by Eleanor H. Hull, 1912.
|Another ancient Irish favourite. For a while it looked as if it would be Number One in our list. It lost out to a sturdy Welsh hymn.|
'I bind unto myself today'
|St Patrick's Breastplate, Charles Villiers Stanford, 1902||Translated in 1889 by the prolific and gifted Mrs C F Alexander, from a very early Gaelic poem.||Just
in case you ever thought about a St Patrick's breastplate
t-shirt, you can now purchase one.
We prefer to sing it rather than to wear it.
17 in 2003; rockets up the chart. Is it a wedding effect?
'Love divine, all loves excelling'
set to Beecher, Airedale, Blaenwern (most common in
the UK), Love Divine (Stainer), and Hyfrydol. Famously
sung at the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine
Middleton to Blaewern.
|Charles Wesley, 1747.||
Wesley super hit. Is there any Anglican who doesn't like
hasn't come down; it's stayed at just the place where
it was in 2003.
'Come down, O Love Divine'
|Down Ampney, Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906. (Down Ampney vicarage, right, where RVW was born.)||Mid-14th century Spanish poem by Bianco da Siena; English translation by Richard Littledale in 1867.||This Ralph Vaughan Williams tune is a cross-Communion favourite. If there were one hymn that the Anglican Communion could agree on — and covenant to sing — it might be this.|
perennial no-name favourite
'For all the saints who from their labours rest'
|Sine Nomine, Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906. 'The tune's title means "without name" and follows the Renaissance tradition of naming certain compositions "Sine Nomine" if they were not settings for preexisting tunes'.||William W. How, in Hymns for Saint’s Days, and Other Hymns, wrote this in 1864.||A popular text married to a brilliant tune. One of the few hymn texts written by an Anglican bishop, the much-loved Bishop of Wakefield.|
surge of popularity for a hymn not to be seen in 2003.
'King of Glory, King of Peace'
|General Seminary (Episcopal Church in the US), Gwalchmai, Jesu, Meines Herzens Freud. See image of General Seminary (New York, New York) to the far right.||The
blessed George Herbert, with the text in his work 'The Temple'.
The hymn text's first appearance was in 1697, in a something called 'Select Hymns Taken out of Mr. Herbert's Temple & turned into the Common Metre To Be Sung In The Tunes Ordinarily us'd in Churches'.
song is now better known: From No. 18 in 2003 to No.
'My song is love unknown'
|Love Unknown, John Ireland, 1919.||Samuel
Crossman, from The Young Man’s Meditation, or Some
Few Sacred Poems upon Select Subjects, and Scriptures, 1664.
||The Revd Mr Crossman is 'Buried in the South Aisle of the Cathedral Church in Bristol" [of which he had been appointed Dean a few weeks before]'. And ill-timed preferment indeed!|
not only is the day ended, but also the empire alluded
to in the words.
'The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended'
Clement, 'composed for this text by Reverend Clement
C. Scholefield [and] published in Arthur S. Sullivan's
1874 hymnal, Church Hymns with Tunes; of his own
accord Sullivan (PHH 46) "canonized" his curate,
Scholefield, by naming this tune ST. CLEMENT'.
There are alternate tunes, but really, why bother?
Ellerton (1826-1893) wrote this text as a part of 'A Liturgy
for Missionary Meetings' in 1870. One might well call that
year a high point of the British Empire.
Just think of all those world maps with a good portion of the lands coloured pale pink (which was, for whatever reason, chosen to represent the Empire).
|We don't know why the pink is red in this case. But the point is still the same.|
in 2003 and here it is tied at No. 9.
'He would valiant be 'gainst all disaster'
|St Dunstan's and Monk's
Gate contest for the most common tune; St D's seems
to edge out the Gate.
John Bunyan! Mr Valiant-for-Truth!
|<- John Bunyan lived here.|
at No. 9 is the last chorus of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Seems right somehow.
'Joyful, joyful, we adore thee'
to Joy, L. van Beethoven, from the Ninth Symphony, adapted
by Edward Hodges, 1824.
J. van Dyke wrote this hymn while a guest at Williams College,
Massachusetts, USA in 1907. We don't know what inspired him.
But he did intend the text to be used with Beethoven's melody.
|Another example of a regional favourite; it appears in US, Canada, and Australian hymnals and isn't really known in the CofE.|
'who camest from England', as this hymn is virtually
unsung outside the former British empire.
'O thou who camest from above'
Hereford, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1872. Apparently there are other tunes contesting for dominance, but we've never heard anything other than Hereford. The purple 'Other' is especially intriguing.
|Charles Wesley wrote this stirring hymn in 1762.||A
superb pairing by grandfather and grandson and a hymn better
known in England than elsewhere.
The phrase 'inextinguishable blaze' is inexplicably changed to 'ever bright undying blaze' in the Episcopal Church Hymnal 1982.
at No. 11. Perhaps it's shaken off those negative football
associations at last. HF
Lyte would be pleased.
'Abide with me, fast falls the eventide'
|Eventide, WH Monk, 1861. According to some sources, Monk wrote EVENTIDE for Lyte's text in ten minutes. 'As the story goes, Monk was attending a hymnal committee meeting for the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern of which he was music editor. Realizing that this text had no tune, Monk sat down at the piano and composed EVENTIDE'.||Henry Francis Lyte wrote this not long before he died in 1847.||Lugubrious,
perhaps, but well loved — and indeed sung in other
places than football stadiums.
In fact, it was sung at the wedding of King George VI and at the wedding of his daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II.
|Hymn||Tune, composer, year||Author or translator, year||Comments|
bind unto myself today'
||St Patrick's Breastplate, Charles Villiers Stanford, 1902||
in 1889 by the prolific and gifted Mrs C F Alexander,
from a very early Gaelic poem.
|The Gaelic poem was called St Patrick’s Lorica or breast-plate. A lorica was a mystical garment that would supposedly protect the wearer from danger. A favourite across many countries.|
|2||'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound'||New Britain, from Southern Harmony 1835||John Newton, 1779.||Top-rated with American readers, it had no votes from elsewhere in the Communion.|
|3||'Be thou my vision'||Slane, Irish folk melody||Translated into English by Mary E. Byrne, in “Eriú,” Journal of the School of Irish Learning, 1905, and put into rhyme by Eleanor H. Hull, 1912.||Another ancient Irish favourite. For a while it looked as if it would be Number One in our list. It slipped a bit but remains a firm favourite across several countries. Hard to tell whether its fans are keener about the words or the music.||4||'Come down, O Love Divine'||Down Ampney, Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906. (Down Ampney vicarage, right)||Mid-14th century Spanish poem by Bianco da Siena; English translation by Richard Littledale in 1867.||The first appearance of a Ralph Vaughan Williams tune, this hymn was a cross-Communion favourite.|
|5||'All my hope on God is founded'||Michael, Herbert Howells, 1935||Based on the German of Joachim Neander (1650-1680), Robert S. Bridges adapted it in 1899.||This popular choice was linked to a fondness for Howells' brilliant setting. We suspect that the hymn itself wouldn't appear in the list if it was sung to Coblentz.|
|6||'For all the saints who from their labours rest'||Sine Nomine, Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906||William W. How, in Hymns for Saint’s Days, and Other Hymns, wrote this in 1864.||A popular text married to a brilliant tune. One of the few hymn texts written by an Anglican bishop, the much-loved Bishop of Wakefield.|
|7||'Let all mortal flesh keep silence'||Picardy, French carol melody||Translated from Greek to English by Gerard Moultrie in 1864, from the Liturgy of S. James, fourth century AD.||This mystical text, combined with a haunting melody, was again a choice from various countries across the Communion.|
|8||'Dear Lord and Father of mankind'||The
old Victorian standard — Rest (Maker), by Frederick
C. Maker, 1887 — is not what put this hymn into the
Top Ten, but rather the 1888 setting Repton, by CHH
Parry. It's also occasionally sung to Hammersmith (Gladstone), by,
er, WH Gladstone.
||John Greenleaf Whittier published this in the Atlantic Monthly in 1872. It is an excerpt from a longer epic (see right).||An example of a hymn chosen specifically with reference to a particular setting; in this case, Repton. Until we did a bit of research on the text, we had no idea it referenced Vedic priests and cocaine-like concoctions called 'soma'. The story is here.|
|9||'Joyful, joyful, we adore thee'||Hymn to Joy, L. van Beethoven, from the Ninth Symphony, adapted by Edward Hodges, 1824||Henry J. van Dyke wrote this hymn while a guest at Williams College, Massachusetts, USA in 1907.||Another example of a regional favourite; it appears in US, Canada, and Australian hymnals|
|10||'O thou who camest from above'||Hereford, SS Wesley, 1872.||Charles Wesley wrote this stirring hymn in 1762.||A superb pairing by grandfather and grandson. An example of a hymn far better known in the Church of England than elsewhere. The phrase 'inextinguishable blaze' in the second verse is inexplicably changed to 'ever bright undying blaze' in the Episcopal Church in the USA Hymnal 1982.|
|11||'Abide with me, fast falls the eventide'||Eventide, WH Monk, 1861.||Henry Francis Lyte wrote this not long before he died in 1847.||Lugubrious, perhaps, but well loved — and indeed sung in other places than football stadiums. In fact, we learn from the Cyberhymnal that it 'was sung at the wedding of King George VI of Britain, and at the wedding of his daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II'.|
|12||'All creatures of our God and King'||Lasst Uns Erfreuen (Köln, Germany: 1623); harmony by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906.||Francis of Assisi, circa 1225 (Cantico di fratre sole, Song of Brother Sun). 'Translated into English by WH Draper for a children’s Whitsuntide festival in Leeds, England; first appeared in the Public School Hymn Book, 1919', according to the Cyberhymnal.||The Reverend WH Draper penned about 60 hymns, but this is the only one widely known and loved. The others are dated period pieces, with such titles as 'We Love God’s Acre Round the Church' and 'What Can I Do for England?'. The tune Lasst Uns Erfreuen is also used for the lovely text 'Ye watchers and ye holy ones'.|
|13||'I come with joy to meet my Lord'||Set to a frightening number of tunes, including St Botolph, Land of Rest, University, Barchester Fair, Bramwell, and Twyford.||Brian Wren, 1971.||An American Episcopal favourite when sung to Land of Rest. The only Top 20 hymn written after World War II.|
|14||'I sing a song of the saints of God'||Grand Isle, John Henry Hopkins Jr||Lesbia Scott, 1929.||Whilst charmingly old-fashioned, the text succeeds at not being a period piece. There is a dreadful Americanization of the lyrics; tea and shops are banished for stores and houses next door. Mrs Scott apparently wrote hymns for her three children; this is the only one we know that has been published.|
|15||'Lift high the cross'||Crucifer, Sydney H. Nicholson, 1916||George William Kitchin; modified by Michael Robert Newbolt, 1916.||One of those hymns which seems to be either loved or hated. George William Kitchin, author of the text, was successively Dean of Winchester, Dean of Durham, and then first Chancellor of the University of Durham.|
|16||'Lord of all hopefulness'||Slane, Irish folk melody||
Jan Struther (pseudonym of Joyce Anstruther Graham Plaszek), 1931.
Is it the words or the melody that catapults 'Lord of All Hopefulness' into the Top 20? Slane is already in the number-three place with another text. Non-sequitur: We came across this intriguing advice: 'This hymn is suitable as the third hymn sung after the signing of the register'.
|'Love divine, all loves excelling'||Sometimes sung to Beecher, Airedale, Blaenwern, and Love Divine (Stainer), we confess we never want it sung to anything other than Hyfrydol, by Rowland Huy Pritchard, 1830.||Charles Wesley, 1747.||Another Wesley super hit. Is there any Anglican who doesn't like this hymn?|
|18||'My song is love unknown'||Love Unknown, John Ireland, 1919.||Samuel Crossman, from The Young Man’s Meditation, or Some Few Sacred Poems upon Select Subjects, and Scriptures, 1664.||After a chequered vocation, careering between Anglican and Puritan and back, Crossman eventually made his peace with the Church of England. He later became Dean of Bristol, in which cathedral he is buried. The text is much loved, with a simple and direct pathos that never descends to the mawkish.|
king of love my shepherd is'
||Sung to either St Columba, one of those ancient Irish melodies, or Dominus Regit Me, John Bacchus Dykes, 1868.||HW Baker, circa 1865.||A
much-loved text by the Reverend Sir Henry Williams Baker,
who was editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern from 1860-77.
He died on 12 February 1877, at Monkland, Herefordshire,
England. His friend John Ellerton reported that Baker’s
dying words were from his famous hymn:
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
|20||'When I survey the wondrous cross'||Set to Rockingham, arranged by Edward Miller, 1790 or less commonly, Hamburg, Lowell Mason, 1824. And there is always Eucharist, Isaac B. Woodbury, 1819.||Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707. Charles Wesley (above) is alleged to have said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one.||The only representative of the oeuvre of the prolific Isaac Watts, but perhaps his most brilliant and effective text.|
|Here are a few of the other hymns that got a scattering of votes here and there, in no particular order.|
|'Immortal, invisible, God only wise'||'Lo! He comes with clouds descending'||'Ye watchers and ye holy ones'||'Alleluia, sing to Jesus'|
|'Crown him with many crowns'||'Father, hear the prayer we offer'||'New every morning is the love'||'Praise to the holiest in the height'|
|'Wake, awake for night is flying' (Wachet Auf)||
'Ye holy angels bright, who wait at God's right hand'
|'Of the Father’s heart begotten'||'All praise to thee, for thou, O King divine'|
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