Music

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1 From the earliest times, music has played an important role in Christian worship, as well as in the worship of the Church’s predecessor, the Jewish Church (e.g., Exodus 15:20-21). Anglicanism in particular has a rich musical heritage.
Our music is considered sacred and an integral part of most of our worship services. With texts dating as early as the 2nd century and tunes as early as the 6th century, our service music includes ancient Hebrew psalms, plainsong, and traditional Anglican chant.  Our 1940 Hymnal includes sources ranging from the medieval to the Carolingian era, from Latin and Eastern Church canon to choral and symphonic works, and from the great hymnists of the 17th – 20th centuries.  It is indeed a “richly varied treasure bequeathed us from every age of the Church” through which we may “make the words the utterance of our own souls; the music the expression of our own personal worship, our own joy or sorrow or brave determination.” [From the Preface of the 1940 Hymnal, p. vi.]
 
We are constantly looking for voices and musicians; if you are interested in the music ministry, please get in touch with us.
 

Featured Hymn

Jerusalem, My Happy Home

 

“Jerusalem, My Happy Home” is one of many in our 1940 hymnal that is based on an apocalyptic (end of times) vision of the New Jerusalem.  It reflects on the contrast between the sorrows of this world and the bliss of the next.  Its vision of our future home is peaceful, light and joyful, in contrast to the kind of religious turmoil that afflicted England around the 16th century when the text was circulating as a ballad.  In the Subject Index of General Hymns, p. 799 of our 1940 Hymnal, it falls under the heading, “The Church Triumphant: Heaven,” pp. 582-598, and is appropriate to any season in the Liturgical Year.  The two tunes in our hymnal are Land of Rest and Diana, but there are several other tunes associated with the text, including Southwell and Bramwell, for example.

[An excellent history of this and other hymns of New Jerusalem can be found as a PDF in The Picture of Heavenly Jerusalem, 1943, by  Stephen A. Hurbut.]

THE WORDS:

Origin in the 11th Century: A Sacred Meditation

The word of “Jerusalem, My Happy Home,” is a metrical adaptation inspired by an 11th century Latin text, “Mater Hierusalem, civitas sancta Dei,” from a work of unknown authorship,  The Meditations of St. Augustine.  (Another of our hymns, more directly translated from this work, is “O Mother, Dear Jerusalem,” hymn 584). The collection is found in the Bibliothéque Municipale of Metz, France, designated MS 245.  Although this manuscript does not mention St. Augustine as author, it acquired that ascription by the end of the 12th century after re-publication in various works under different names, and at some point it was translated into English.  It was still being credited to St. Augustine as late as the 17th century.  One English translation of the Meditations, still crediting St. Augustine, is found in Meditations, Soliloquia, and Manuall of the Glorious Doctour S. Augustine, 1631, by Nicholas de la Coste.

Development into a Metrical Text: The Ballad

Meanwhile, somewhere between 1571 to 1603, (the true date is unknown) a metrical text inspired by the Meditations was written and began to circulate in England as a ballad.  It was included in an incomplete collection of broadside black-letter ballads dating to the reign of James I, and purchased by the British Museum in 1844, designated as MS. Addit. 15,225. A broadside is a large sheet of cheap paper printed on only one side. “Black-letter” refers to the style of heavy Old English lettering in which the ballad was printed, even long after the introduction of a better, more-readable and lightweight roman type.  Printers would bundle collections of broadside ballads on topics ranging from the romantic to the political to the pious and devotional, and sell them to traveling minstrels.  Because of the difficulty of reading the heavy type, many individuals hand-copied their favorite texts, creating their own collections. Many such collections were lost.  MS. Addit. 15,225, mentioned above, is one of the rare survivors.

In 1850, someone by the name of B.E. wrote a letter to The Gentleman’s Magazine, which brought the British Museum text to the attention of the public.  The letter contains the earliest printed text of our hymn, appearing under the title “A song made by F. B. P. to the tune of Diana,” and containing 26 verses.  No one has yet discovered the author’s identity.

This text found its way into a book published in 1852 in Edinburgh, Scotland, called The New Jerusalem: A Hymn of the Olden Time, on pp. xiii to xx, and containing 26 verses.  At the end of the 18th century, another text of this hymn was published with new verses for a small Ekington parish (The Eckington Collection).  Other publications featuring the hymn include A Collection of Above Six Hundred Hymns, 1801; Psalms and Hymns for Public or Private Devotion, 1802; and Christian Psalmist, 1825.  (As an aside, a 1790 publication, A Collection of Sacred Ballads introduced a new verse that begins, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years…,” which eventually was added to a different and very familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace,” in a 1910 hymn book, Coronation Hymns.)

THE MUSIC:

First Tune: Land of Rest

Land of Rest is a traditional American melody collected and harmonized by Mrs. Annabel Morris Buchanan (1888-1983) and published in her book, Folk Hymns of America, 1938.  She was an American composer and a lover and preserver of folk heritage.  She helped to organize the first Virginia State Choral Festival in 1928, and was a co-founder of the Virginia White Top Folk Festival of Grayson County Virginia, 1931-1939, which promoted the music of the Appalachian Mountains.  In her book she remembered first hearing the tune, Land of Rest, from her grandmother when she was a little girl. She determined it to be of Scots or Northern English origin, and found it widely-circulating in the Appalachian region.

Second Tune: Diana

In the British Museum manuscript, MS. Addit. 15,225 the suggested tune was Diana.  This probably refers to an English folksong, “Diana and her Darlings Deare.”  However, the earliest known printing of the text of this song is in A Handfull of Pleasant Delites, 1584, by Clement Robinson and the tune suggested was Quarter Braules, a tune whose meter does not actually match the texts of either folksong or hymn.  A 1923 article by Hyder E. Rollins entitled “Ballads from an additional MS.38,599” asserted that Rogero, (an English ballad dating to 1557 and found in William Chappell’s Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1855), and Diana are identical tunes for both the ballad and the hymn.  In addition, in The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd ed., 1962, the editors asserted the link between Diana and Rogero and assigned the name Diana to the 2nd tune of “Jerusalem, My Happy Home” in the newly-published The Hymnal 1940.

“Jerusalem, My Happy Home” has been published in 791 different hymnals.  Written at a time when congregational singing was limited to metrical paraphrases of the Psalms, it’s no wonder this hymn found its way over the centuries from England to America.  The beauty and comfort of the words, combined with the ease of the lilting ballad style, ensured the popularity and spread of this lovely hymn.  It is truly “sacred folk-literature at its finest.” [The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd ed., 1941, p. 342]

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