For all the Saints

During this time whilst we can’t sing together in worship we are aiming to post a different hymn each week. For some Sundays it will be the obvious hymn in Common Praise for a particular Sunday and a brief commentary – partly with reference to The Penguin Book of Hymns edited by Ian Bradley, The Nation’s Favourite Hymns by Andrew Barr or research on the internet – will be published with our hymn choice for the week. The words of the hymn will be provided alongside a recording of the hymn, courtesy of Lucy Colbourne at home whilst Lancaster University is in lockdown. This will have been recorded by Billy Colbourne (Assistant Organist) and includes use of his Hauptwerk organ also at home, with the sounds of Salisbury Cathedral’s organ.

Charles Pavey – Organist & Choirmaster

For all the Saints

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesu, be forever blest.

Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win with them the victor's crown of gold.

The golden evening brightens in the west;
soon, soon to faithful warrior cometh rest;
sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

W Walsham How

Tune: Sine Nomine
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams

CCLI - 1073121








Hymn Commentary 

For all the saints must be one of the finest hymns ever written.  From beginning to end it is a vision of a triumphant church.  It was first printed in Hymns for Saints' Days, and Other Hymns in 1864.  But it wasn’t until 1906, with the publication of the English Hymnal, that a new tune was put alongside the words.  And it was this tune, Sine Nomine (literally, "without name"), that has secured the hymn’s fame. 

The composer of the tune, Ralph Vaughan Williams, was born in the Gloucestershire village of Down Ampney in 1872.  Although he refused a knighthood and declined the post of Master of the King’s Music after Elgar died, he did accept one state honour in 1935 – the Order of Merit – as it doesn’t confer a title; he preferred to remain Dr. Vaughan Williams.  He died suddenly (having enjoyed excellent health) at home in Central London in 1958.

The words were written by William Walsham How. Born in 1823, he was educated in Shrewsbury and then at Oxford and Durham Universities.  Ordained in 1846, he served a curacy in Kidderminster before undertaking thirty years of parish work in Shropshire.  He refused preferment on several occasions but his energy and success made him well known.  He was finally consecrated a bishop in 1879, becoming the Suffragan Bishop of Bedford and subsequently Bishop of Wakefield.  As bishop of Bedford, his province being included the East End.  There he became the inspiring influence of a revival of church work. He founded the East London Church Fund and enlisted a large band of enthusiastic helpers, his popularity being immense. His work with children earned him the title the children's bishop.  He died while on holiday in Ireland, on 10 August 1897 in Leenane, Couty Mayo. Although there is a marble memorial to him in Wakefield Cathedral, he was buried in Whittington, Shropshire, where he had been rector for 28 years.  There is also a memorial plaque to him inside the London city church of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, bearing the line "Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest", from verse six of this hymn.

Charles Pavey - Organist & Choirmaster


Anthem for the Week