Let Party Names No More (B. Beddome, 1769) from Rice Haggard’s Christian Hymns (1815)
This hymn by Benjamin Beddome, “Let Party Names No More…” was written around 1769. Rice Haggard was among the first to include it in his Christian Hymns hymnal of 1815, one of the earliest from the Stone-Campbell-Scott, etc., Restoration Movement.It’s easy to see why it isn’t in hymnals today…don’t you think?
Though the COVID-19 virus and all the surrounding crises seem to have slowed the election year rhetoric, this song speaks of something much deeper than merely the political system. Early leaders in the movement of the Campbells, Stone, Scott, and others longed to be Christians only, not the only Christians. It was Raccoon John Smith who said “Let us, then, my brethren, be no longer Campbellites, or Stonites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any other kind of lights, but let us come to the Bible, and to the Bible alone, as the only book in the world that can give us all the light that we need.” (J. Murch, Christians Only, Cincinnatti: Standard Publishing, 1952).
So, some stream of consciousness thoughts that have been percolating for some time now.
As the great theologian Hedley Lamarr once said:
“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening thru a cosmic vapor of invention.”
I’ve been thinking, almost constantly now for several weeks, about the implications of COVID on our church and the church as a whole’s re-assembling…and about the numerous reports and stories regarding how singing can, did, does, and could be a significant factor in transmission of airborne germs that could carry the virus.
I don’t want to think about an assembly WITHOUT SINGING. The thought of that even being an option on the table saddens me deeply. If we can’t sing together, then it’s hard to think that it’s right to come back together quite yet.
[You can read an earlier post I shared last week about the wisdom in choosing not to assemble together quite yet from a perspective of preventing risk as opposed to creating risk…]
Yes, there are ways we can sing with masks on, tools, technology, things we can use to help us still worship in song even if we can’t sing full-heartedly and spirit-filled without masks.
As I was sharing with my bro Nathan Tillotson a little while ago, one of the take aways I hope to see as a result of this quarantine is that the church more fully embraces the communal and spiritually formative nature of congregational singing.
Each week, what I miss the most in our season of live streamed worship, is singing with my church family. For some time now, the church has seen in its present pendulum swing with regard to worship music, a leaning toward a return to more congregation-friendly, participation-initiating, more hymnic style songs (i.e., Getty/Townend – Sovereign Grace – Bob Kauflin – Indellible Grace – Kevin Twit – Audrey Asaad and others writing them and helping to lead the church in such a direction!).
But as the church processes just how much it has missed being together, I hope and pray that it will recapture and appreciate the incredible power and witness of congregational song again…it’s long overdue.
“The vilest offender who truly believes, will surely, from Jesus, a pardon receive.”
That is a lyric I’ve known all my life…and sung time after time, as I do so many, without it sinking in.
A few weeks ago, I attended something called a HYMNINAR, where I and 10-15 new friends joined together to explore the craft of hymn text writing and what an incredible week it was. That’s a post for another time.
But, over the course of that week, thinking intently and intensely about the lyrics of great hymns, we had a chance to sing a lot. One of the hymns which I don’t think I’d ever led, but had maybe sung a few times was the great hymn, Love for All. The text is by the lesser Longfellow, Samuel. The tune most often associated with it is HORTON (Schnyder) and is 188.8.131.52
While all of this hymn lyric is absolutely stunning, rich and deep with good theology, there’s a particular verse that really stunned me as I sang it. How often have I been the “prodigal” son? More often than I care to admit…but thanks be to God, the Father, waiting and willing, stands, waiting expectantly to receive me…to receive us…each and every time we stray and return.
See! My Father waiting stands;
See! He reaches out His hands;
God is love, I know, I see,
Love for me, yes, even me.
Incredibly poignant to sing these words and let then sink into your heart.
This is GRACE…this is the GOSPEL.
––––– ––––– ––––– –––––
Here’s the entire lyric:
Love for all! and can it be? Can I hope it is for me? I, who strayed so long ago, Strayed so far, and fell so low!
I, the disobedient child, Wayward, passionate, and wild; I, who left my Father’s home In forbidden ways to roam!
I, who spurned his loving hold, I, who would not be controlled; I, who would not hear his call, I, the willful prodigal!
I, who wasted and misspent Every talent he had lent; I, who sinned again, again, Giving every passion reign!
To my Father can I go? At his feet myself I’ll throw, In his house there yet may be Place, a servant’s place for me.
See, my Father waiting stands; See, he reaches out his hands: God is love! I know, I see, Love for me–yes, even me.
Church Music in America is seemingly “torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool.” That is to say, we are experiencing a period of transition stylistically, theologically, and musically as well as lyrically. There appears to be a groundswell of desire to return to the time honored-hymn form…a new renaissance, as Robert Webber put it, of the “ancient-future” in which many musicians, composers, and lyricists are returning to texts and tunes that have stood the test of time as the basis for new compositions. We need look no further than Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend, Sovereign Grace Music, Indelible Grace, David Crowder, even the popular groups coming out of the Passion movement, Bethel, and yes, even Hillsong has tipped their caps to the sound of songs from years gone by.
Such is the case with the hymn-subject of this entry, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and its well-known tune, LASST UNS ERFREUEN. As recently as November of 2017, Sovereign Grace Music did a new arrangement of “All Creatures.”CCLI claims no less than 185 different entries in their catalog of songs either quote, mention, borrow from, or add choruses or other pieces to the original hymn. “All Creatures” is found in over 200 hymnals, and the LASST UNS ERFREUEN tune is found in excess of 300 hymnals as well.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182–1226) lived during the time of the Crusades, when the upper class and elite ruled the land and when armored knights rode chivalrously on their horses across the European countryside. But not Francis. A monk in search of reform, Francis lived a humble, simple lifestyle in service to God and to his fellow man. He is said to have loved nature, travel, and would preach to anyone who’d listen, even if it was a group of birds in a cave. His love of nature and his love for the Creator of nature is what birthed his “Song of Brother Sun and All Creatures,” or “Cantico del frate sole.” It was one of several popular laude spirituale, or popular spiritual songs in Italian for use outside of the liturgical context.
Francis is believed to have written this poem near the end of his earthly life, during a period of tremendous pain and suffering. And among its more salient details are the tone with which Francis writes, a tone that expresses a desire for man and nature to be one, a love of the earth and all God’s creatures in it, a voice way ahead of its time and well before any hint of a movement toward a cultural and ecological revolution like America saw in the 1960’s.
Dr. J.R. Watson, British hymnologist observes: “In the original the saint gives each element, such as fire and water, a human gender, so that they become ‘brother’ and ‘sister.’ This remains in the appellation of ‘Dear mother earth’ in verse 4, and is suggested by the personification of death as ‘kind and gentle’ in verse 6. These elements in the hymn make it seem tender as well as grand. It is based in part upon Psalm 148.”
In most English Versions, freely translated by William Henry Draper, we find either four or five verses. William Henry Draper (1855–1933) was born at Kenilworth, GB and educated at Oxford for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. He was ordained in 1880 to serve the Anglican church at St. Mary’s in Shrewsbury, as well as in Alfreton, and Leeds.
Draper is credited as the paraphraser or free translator of this text attributed to St. Francis.
He is also given credit for twelve to fifteen other hymns, the most popular being “In our day of Thanksgiving, one psalm let us offer.”Julian offers that Draper had some sixty hymns to his credit in 1907 and gave Draper high praise for his verse. Draper composed his translation/paraphrase for the occasion of a children’s celebration of Whitsuntide at Leeds between 1906 and 1919. It was published in the Public School Hymnbook of 1919, and Draper couldn’t remember the exact date of his composition. It was set to Ralph Vaughan Williams tune, LASST UNS ERFRUEN, a staple tune of British hymnody, in this publication, though it is believed to have been sung and known prior to the 1919 book.
The tune, LASST UNS ERFREUEN, is most often set by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who originally included it when he compiled and edited The English Hymnal in 1906. The title is derived from the Eastertide text, Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr, from the 1623 Jesuit hymnal collection titled Ausserlesene Catlwlische Geistliche Kirchengesänge. Other texts often associated with this tune include “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow,” “From All That Dwell Below The Skies,” “Ye Watchers And Ye Holy Ones,” “Now All The Vault Of Heaven Resounds,” and “Give To Our God Immortal Praise.” There are numerous arrangements and opportunities for variation in texture, voicing, call and response, or many other creative options. Erik Routley once suggested this hymn to be a part of a broader family of tunes based on the major triad, including MIT FREUDEN ZART.
All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice and with us sing:
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice,
ye lights of evening, find a voice:
Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for thy Lord to hear,
Thou fire so masterful and bright
that givest us both warmth and light,
All ye who are of tender heart,
forgiving others, take your part,
sing his praises, Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
praise God and on him cast your care,
Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
and praise the Spirit, Three in One,
In each stanza, the author personifies an aspect of nature as brother and sister humankind. In the opening stanza, he calls all creatures in praise to God . . . echoes of Psalm 8, Psalm 19 reminiscent in the back of our minds. Each stanza ends with a Trinitarian “alleluia,” beginning with a two-part opening chorus motif calling us to “praise him,” and concluding with the tripartite “alleluia.” Some translations have translated the refrain as “Praise God” in an effort to make the language more gender-neutral. Others have removed the language considered to be archaic, “thees” and “thous” with we, you, and other modern pronouns.
Stanza two speaks of the winds, clouds, moon, evening lights, and skies, all in praise of the Creator.
Stanza three speaks of the flowing water, which brings cleansing and healing, that clear water . . . double-entendre perhaps, speaking of Christ as living water and the water that flows from the throne as referenced in the Old Testament narrative. It also speaks of fire in contrast to water.
Stanza four breaks from this pattern of Creator-Creation praise to focus on the act of forgiveness on the part of humans, created in the image of the Creator and created to offer forgiveness to one another. God as forgiver, Christ as sacrifice and bearer of our sin, shame, and care. Echoes of Christ bearing our burden as he shares in Matthew 11 immediately come to mind. Once again, the stanza ends in a closing Trinitarian refrain.
Stanza five could be considered a corollary to stanza one, once again calling all of creation to bless their creator-God. This time, the Creator is praised as the holy Three-in-One, Father, Spirit, and Son. The author calls all creation to praise the Creator, to praise the Father, the Son, and Spirit, Three-in-one. And as each stanza that preceded it, stanza five concludes with the Trinitarian refrain.