We Have a Gospel

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

We Have a Gospel to Proclaim

We have a gospel to proclaim
Good news for men in all the earth;
The gospel of a Saviour’s name,
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Tell of His birth at Bethlehem,
Not in a royal house or hall
But in a stable dark and dim,
The Word made flesh, a light for all.

Tell of His death at Calvary,
Hated by those He came to save,
In lonely suffering on the cross,
For all He loved His life He gave.

Tell of that glorious Easter morn,
Empty the tomb, for He was free.
He broke the power of death and hell
That we might share His victory.

Tell of His reign at God’s right hand,
By all creation glorified,
He sends His Spirit on His Church,
To live for Him, the Lamb who died.

Now we rejoice to name Him King,
Jesus is Lord of all the earth,
This gospel message we proclaim,
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Edward J Burns

Tune: Fulda
Music: Sacred Melodies by W Gardiner

CCLI - 1073121










Hymn Commentary 

Everybody has their favourite hymns and for most people that’s because they enjoy singing them.  For a few though it’s not so much the singing of them, but the playing of them, that appeals.  And so it is with this week’s Hymn for the Week.  But before anybody accuses the organist of not listening to his singers, the joy of playing We have a gospel to proclaim comes from the words.  The contrast in verse two of ‘dark and dim’ followed by ‘The Word made flesh, a light for all’ is an encouragement to start playing (and singing) a bit louder.  But if that isn’t enough, the quiet of ‘lonely suffering’ on the cross’ in verse three should be completely shattered by the volume in verse four: ‘Tell of that glorious Easter morn…He broke the power of death and Hell that we might share his victory’.

And there’s no surprise about the words as the author, Edward Joseph Burns, produced it for a ‘Call to Mission’ in Blackburn Diocese.  The call centred on four meetings in every area which focused on elements of the apostolic preaching: the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension.  The hymn was written for these meetings with the four points being taken up in turn in the four inner verses.  Born in 1938 in Nelson, Lancashire, Burns was educated at the University of Liverpool and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.  He was ordained deacon in 1961, became a priest in 1962 and has served as a priest in his native Lancashire ever since.  So, whilst We have a gospel to proclaim was initially written to serve a very particular purpose, it has since seen far wider use than might originally have been envisaged.  And if he ‘Call to Mission’ mentioned above was to encourage discipleship, there is a connection to Holy Trinity’s Anthem for the Week, Day by Day, as it concludes with the words ‘follow Thee more nearly, day by day’. 

The tune Fulda is by William Gardiner (d.1853).  Although he worked in the hosiery trade, he was also a keen amateur musician of some consequence who is said to have introduced the music of Beethoven to Britain. He knew many leading musicians of his day and was said to have sent Haydn a pair of his stockings interwoven with part of Austria, a hymn tune which is sung to a couple of other hymns in Holy Trinity’s hymnal, Common Praise.  Gardiner claimed that Fulda was to be found somewhere in Beethoven’s music.  However, despite many theories this not been proven and so it is probably best to consider that the tune is Gardiner’s.

Charles Pavey - Organist & Choirmaster


Anthem for the Week