An Awesome Ancient Hymn

To begin, you will not find the word awesome on any post I’ve written before this.  I only use the word to describe that which inspires awe.

The Lord is so kind.  The one hymn I’ve wanted for my funeral since I was 19 years old, Vaughan Williams’ For All the Saints, is now regularly sung by my loved ones and fellow worshipers.  If I were to die tonight, I have all the confidence that my wishes to have this song sung at my funeral would be fulfilled.  I could not say that ten years ago.

After we had sung Only-Begotten, Word of God Eternal during communion today, I notified my husband that he only has to remember two hymns: For All the Saints and Only-Begotten.  This Latin hymn from the ninth century is one of the most potent expressions of worship.  The music (click on MIDI for a creepy electronic sound [I’m searching for a better version], print out the music free on Adobe) has a majesty and gravitas that is unparalleled. I am never able to sing through every verse.  Lumps, great lumps, arise.  The Trinitarian benediction is glorious. 

Only-begotten, Word of God eternal,
Lord of creation, merciful and mighty:
Hear now Thy servants, when their joyful voices
Rise to Thy presence.

This is Thy temple; here Thy presence holy;
Here may Thy servants, at the mystic banquet,
Humbly adoring, take Thy body broken,
Drink of Thy chalice.

Here in our sickness, healing grace aboundeth,
Light in our blindness, in our toil refreshment:
Sin is forgiven, hope o’er fear prevaileth,
Joy over sorrow.

Hallowed this dwelling where the Lord abideth,
This is none other than the gate of heaven;
Strangers and pilgrims, seeking homes eternal,
Pass through its portals.

Lord, we beseech Thee, as we throng Thy temple,
By Thy past blessings, by Thy present bounty,
Favor Thy children, and with tender mercy
Hear our petitions.

God in three Persons, Father everlasting,
Son co-eternal, ever-blessed Spirit,
Thine be the glory, praise, and adoration,
Now and forever. 

Gratefully,

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5 thoughts on “An Awesome Ancient Hymn

  1. I have never heard or seen this hymn — the words, especially the verses in red, wrapped around my heart like a fleece blanket, warm and soft and comforting. I would love to hear this sung…”joyful voices” rising to His presence… thank you for sharing this hymn. Blessings, Laurie

  2. I had to check our hymnal…yep it is there. But the melody wasn’t that which I expected by just looking a the words. I thought it must go to “Christe Sanctorum” and it does fit…
    Funny,  but this was in our ‘Beginning of the Service ‘ section…
    Have you seen the new hymnals we have, Carol? In every hymn that has a Trinitarian benidictive verse at the end we have a little triangle, to encourage us to stand (we sing Liturgy standing but usually hymns sitting). It is new for us withthis hymnal and is a great addition!
    God bless you today!

  3. Laurie, it is so rich and full.  We sing a different harmonization than the tune on the MIDI; our is fuller, lower bass voice…just exquisite.  Tanabu Girl, isn’t it funny how attached we often become to the *first* tune we’ve heard with a hymn?  I listened to Christe Sanctorum and it fits, but I prefer the Rouen tune.I would love to see your new hymnals.  I collect hymnals, and love to look through them.  The little triangle almost gives me goosebumps, I love standing for the benediction.  Do you sing the Amens?  We don’t; I would like to start a campaign to at least sing the Amens which are written with the hymn.I had a fit of hysterical laughter reading Monarch of the Glen last night.  I was laughing so hard, it was as good as doing 100 crunches.  Tears streaming, gasping for air, laughing.  My husband and son were curious, naturally.  When I read it to them, with a repeat of spasms of laughter and tears, they just gave me odd looks.  They laughed a little bit, more at the spectacle I made, than at the words.  Thanks for letting me borrow it.   Give that grandbaby a hug for me, please!

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