September 28, 2013

Merciful Saviour, Hear Our Humble Prayer

Give Their Spirits Light and Endless Rest

Merciful Saviour, Hear Our Humble Prayer was written by the Sulpician Priest and author, Fr. Melvin L. Farrell. It is sung to the tune, Old 124th by the French Renaissance composer Louis Bourgeois (c.1510–1560). It is just one of several settings of the Psalms he wrote for John Calvin's Genevan Psalter of 1551. The words to Merciful Saviour, Hear Our Humble Prayer can be found in this example of the Liturgy for the Anglican Vespers for the Dead.

Tune: Old 124th

Lord God, We Give You Thanks for All Your Saints

In Every Word and Deed They Spoke of Christ

Lord God, We Give You Thanks for All Your Saints was written by Marcella Martin (b.1908). It is hymn #488 in the New Standard Version of Hymns: Ancient and Modern. It is set to the tune, Woodlands by British composer and educator, Walter Greatorex (1877-1949). For 38 years he was the Director of Music at Gresham's School in Holt, North Norfork. It was there in 1919 that he composed Woodlands to be sung in the school's chapel. It is better known as the setting for the hymn, Lift Up Your Hearts. Some of his more notable pupils include Benjamin Britten, Lennox Berkeley, and W. H. Auden.

Tune: Woodlands

September 26, 2013

Praise We the Woman

Strong in Faith and Patience

Praise We the Woman is sung in the Common of Women Saints in the Divine Office. An example of it's use, along with full lyrics to the hymn can be found in the Optional Memorial of Blessed Josepha Hendrina Stenmanns. It is set to the tune, Morning Hymn by composer, Fran­çois H. Bar­thé­lé­mon (1741-1808). It was written in 1785, at the request of an orphanage chaplain in London and was published in Hymns and Psalms used at the Asy­lum House of Ref­uge for Fe­male Or­phans. The French born Bar­thé­lé­mon spent most of his working life in England where he enjoyed a much celebrated career.

Tune: Morning Hymn

September 25, 2013

This is the Day Whereon the Lord's True Witness / Iste Confessor

All Through the Ages

This is the Day Whereon the Lord's True Witness is a 1902 translation by Fr. John O'Connor (1870-1952) of the Latin hymn, Iste Confessor (2 versions are shown below). In the Roman Breviary it is sung at Vespers and Matins in the Common of Confessors and Bishops. In 1905, Fr. O'Connor's translation was included in Arundel Hymns (#237, p. 448). I have not been able to identify the tune for This is the Day Whereon the Lord's True Witness that it was originally published with. An alternative tune that it can be sung to is Rouen (see 1st video). In 1903 O'Connor met G. K. Chesterton and the two became life-long friends. O'Connor was instrumental in Chesterton's conversion to the Catholic Church. Chesterton's fictional detective, Father Brown was based upon O'Connor. In 1937, after Chesterton's death, Fr. O'Connor recounted their over 30 years of friendship in his book: Father Brown on Chesterton. For an alternative translation see my post: This is the Feast Day of the Lord's True Witness / Iste Confessor.

Tune: Iste Confessor (Rouen)


1. This is the day whereon the Lord’s true witness,
Whom all the nations lovingly do honour,
Worthy at last was found to wear forever
Glory transcendent.

2. Loving, far–seeing, lowly, modest minded,
So kept he well an even course unstained,
Ever while in his frame of manhood lingered
Life’s fitful breathings.

3. Oft hath it been thro’ his sublime deserving
Poor human bodies, howsoever stricken,
Broke and cast off the bondage of their sickness,
Healed Divinely.

4. Wherefore to him we raise the solemn chorus,
Chanting his praise and his surpassing triumph;
So may his pleading help us in the battle
All through the ages.

5. Healing and power, grace and beauteous honour
Always be His, who shining in the highest,
Ruleth and keepeth all the world’s vast order,
One God three Persons.

 Gregorian Chant


1. Iste Confessor Domini colentes
Quem pie laudant populi per orbem:
Hac die laetus meruit beatas
Laudis honores.

2. Qui pius, prudens, humilis, pudicus,
Sobriam duxit sine labe vitam.
Donec humanos animavit aurae
Spiritus artus.

3. Cujus ob praestans meritum frequenter,
Ægra quae passim jacuere membra,
Viribus morbi domitis, saluti

4. Noster hinc illi chorus obsequentem
Concinit laudem, celebresque palmas;
Ut piis ejus precibus juvemur
Omne per ævum.

5. Sit salus illi, decus, atque virtus,
Qui super cæli solio coruscans,
Totius mundi seriem gubernat,
Trinus et unus. Amen


1. Iste confessor Domini sacratus
Festa plebs cuius celebrat per orbem,
Hodie letus meruit secreta,
Scandere Cœli.

2. Qui pius, prudens, humilis, pudicus,
Sobrius, castus fuit et quietus
Vita, dum presens vegetavit ejus
Corporis artus.

3. Ad sacrum cuius tumulum frequenter,
Membra languentem modo sanitati,
Quo libet morbo fuerint gravata,

4. Unde nunc noster chorus in honorem
Ipsius hymnum canit nunc libenter,
Ut piis ejus meritis juvemur
Omne per aevum.

 5. Sit salus illi decus atque virtus,
Qui supra cœli residens cacumen,
Totius mundi machinam gubernat,
Trinus et unus.

September 21, 2013

God's Blessed Spirit Moved His Virgin Saint

She Bore the Holy Spirit's Timeless Fruits

God's Blessed Spirit Moved His Virgin Saint, first published in 1974, is just one of a number of hymns written by the Benedictine Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey that are included in both the Liturgy of the Hours (ICEL, 1975) and the Divine Office (non-ICEL, 1974). A comprehensive list of the various contributions that the Sisters have made to liturgical developments in the Church over the past century can be found here. Words to the God's Blessed Spirit Moved His Virgin Saint can be found on page 3 (Hymn for Office of Readings) of the following pdf document: Proper Offices for St. Mary Domenica. It is sung to the tune Eventide, composed in 1861 by William Henry Monk (1823-1889).

September 15, 2013

O Jesu Thou the Virgins' Crown / Je­su Co­ro­na Vir­gin­um / Ie­su Co­ro­na Vir­gin­um

Adoring All Thy Chosen Brides

O Jesu Thou the Virgins' Crown is a translation of the 4th century Latin hymn, Je­su Co­ro­na Vir­gin­um (see 2nd video) attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan (c.340-397). In the Roman Breviary it is traditionally sung at Vespers and Lauds in the Common of Virgins. In the 19th century a dozen or so English translations were written, among them: the 1854 work O Jesu Thou the Virgins' Crown by Anglican priest, scholar and prolific hymn-writer, John M. Neale (1818-1866). It is sung to the tune, St. Bernard by William Henry Monk (1823-1889). An alternative tune is Tallis' Canon, as featured in the 1st video.

Tune: Tallis' Canon


1. O Jesu, the virgins’ Crown, do Thou
Accept us as in prayer we bow,
Born of that virgin whom alone
The mother and the maid we own.

2. Amongst the lilies Thou dost feed,
And thither choirs of virgins lead,
Adorning all Thy chosen brides
With glorious gifts Thy love provides.

3. And whither, Lord, Thy footsteps wend,
The virgins still with praise attend;
For Thee they pour their sweetest song,
And after Thee rejoicing throng.

4. O gracious Lord, we Thee implore
Thy grace on every sense to pour;
From all pollution keep us free,
And make us pure in heart for Thee.

5. All praise to God the Father be,
All praise, Eternal Son, to Thee,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
For ever and for evermore.

Sung by the Benedictine Nuns at the Abbey of Regina Laudis from the album, Women in Chant.


1. J(I)esu corona Virginum,
quem Mater illa concipit
quae sola Virgo parturit,
haec vota clemens accipe.

2. Qui pascis inter lilia,
septus choreis Virginum
sponsas decorans gloria,
sponsisque reddens praemia.

3. Quocumque pergis, virgines
sequuntur, atque laudibus
post te canentes cursitant
hymnosque dulces personant.

4. Te deprecamur largius
nostris adauge sensibus
nescire prorsus omnia,
corruptionis vulnera.

5. Virtus, honor, laus, gloria,
Deo Patri cum Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito
In saeculorum saecula.

September 10, 2013

For All Thy Saints, O Lord

Who Followed Thee, Obeyed, Adored

For All Thy Saints, O Lord was written by the Anglican Bishop and author, Richard Mant (1776 – 1848). It was one of a small group of original hymns which he included in his Ancient Hymns from the Roman Breviary.  First Published in 1837,  it was one of the earliest collections of English hymns translated from the original Latin. For All Thy Saints, O Lord is set to the tune, Narenza which was composed by William Henry Havergal (1793-1870), and based on a melody from Catholicum Hymnologium Germanicum of 1584. A more commonly associated hymn tune with it is Festal Song, as featured in the 2nd video. In the Divine Office it is sung on Feasts and Memorials of Saints or Angels.

Tune: Narenza

FOR ALL THY SAINTS by Richard Mant, 1837 (Public Domain)

 1. For all thy saints, 0 Lord,
our grateful hymn receive,
who followed thee. obeyed, adored,
and strove in thee to live.

 2. For all thy saints, 0 Lord,
accept our thankful cry,
who counted thee their great reward,
who strove in thee to die.

 3. Thine earthly members fit
 to join thy saints above,
in one communion ever knit,
one fellowship of love.

 4. Jesus, thy name we bless,
 and humbly pray that we
may follow them in holiness
and live and die in thee.

 5. All might, all praise, be thine,
Father, co-equal Son,
and Spirit, bond of love divine,
while endless ages run.

Tune: Festal Song

September 8, 2013

Wilt Thou Forgive That Sin, Where I Begun

And Do Run Still, Though Still I Do Deplore ?

Wilt Thou Forgive that Sin, Where I Begun is an adaptation of the poem, A Hymn to God the Father by English poet, lawyer, and Anglican Cleric John Donne (1572-1631). Likely written in 1623, he composed it while recovering from an unknown deadly illness (possibly typhus) that was endemic in London at the time. Later upon hearing his poem sung by the Chor­is­ters of St. Paul’s Ca­thed­ral, Donne remarked: “the words of this hymn have re­stored to me the same thoughts of joy that pos­sessed my soul in my sick­ness, when I com­posed it. And, O the pow­er of Church-mu­sic! that har­mo­ny add­ed to this hymn has raised the af­fect­ions of my heart, and quick­ened my grace of zeal and gra­ti­tude; and I ob­serve that I al­ways re­turn from pay­ing this pub­lic duty of pray­er and praise with an un­ex­press­i­ble tran­quil­i­ty of mind, and will­ing­ness to leave the world.” - Izaak Walton's Lives, 1670. Among the many musical settings of the poem, probably the most common tune for congregational singing is So Giebst Du (Dresden, 1694) with harmonization added by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1720). In some publications of the Divine Office, such as Christian Prayer: Liturgy of the Hours (St. Paul Editions, 1976), A Hymn to God the Father is included as an optional poem to be recited (see 2nd video) at Night Prayer.

Tune: So Giebst Du

WILT THOU FORGIVE THAT SIN? by John Donne, 1623 (Public Domain)

Wilt Thou forgive that sin, by man begun,
Which was my sin though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine, as He shines now and heretofore:
And, having done that, Thou hast done:
I fear no more.

Poem read by Richard Burton