Sunday, August 06, 2017

Hymns That Move Me (Week 3)

This is the third in my series looking at thirty amazing hymns and songs of the Christian faith. I made three lists, one of my top 10 from the Moravian Church's tradition, one of my top 10 of the great classic hymns, and a top 10 of more "Gospel-type" hymns and songs. I am doing it alphabetically to be fair to all the songs. I hope you are both inspired by these words and learn a little about my own denomination's rich musical heritage.

When choosing videos to accompany the hymns I try to choose ones that best capture the spirit of the song as it has been important to me. I obviously stick to the traditional and best known tunes in the case where alternate tunes might be used.

Moravian Hymns
Hosanna- Christian Gregor (1783)

For many Moravians it isn't Advent or Palm Sunday without the Hosanna Anthem. It is, of course, based on the call of the crowds as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We use it on the First Sunday in Advent as that is the beginning of the church year and the coming of Jesus into the world. The Moravian Church in the East West Indies Province describes the song this way:
The Hosanna Anthem can be sung at anytime during the year, however, it is on Advent Sunday or the season of Advent and Palm Sunday, that its real meaning and significance is borne out. Both seasons speak to the coming of Jesus.

The Hosanna Anthem is based on the phrase Hosanna and is a traditional Moravian Anthem written by Christian Gregor, a Moravian Bishop in 1765. It is sung Antiphonally or Alternately, and is, "a call and response song". Traditionally, it was sung between boys and girls, or the entire congregation between men and women, where the men would call and the women would respond. For example, the men would call: 'Hosanna, blessed is He that comes'. The women would respond 'Hosanna, blessed is He that comes'. [Note that in many congregations it may also be sung antiphonally between the right and left sides of the congregation.]
According to Wikipedia, Christian Gregor (1723-1801)
is credited with the Moravian liturgical development of the late 18th century and the introduction of concerted anthems into worship services. Gregor edited the 1779 hymnal and the 1784 chorale book of the Unitas Fratrum. He composed several hundred musical works which are preserved in American collections.
Hosanna! Blessed is He That comes!
Hosanna! Hosanna!
Blessed is He That comes in the Name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Here is a video of the Moravian College Choir performing the anthem as part of the 2009 Moravian Music Festival in Bethlehem, PA.

Great Hymns of the Church
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing- Robert Robison (1757)

An English Baptist, Robert Robinson penned the words at age 22 in the year 1757. It is one of the most heartfelt hymns of grace that I ever sing. Some of that may lie in the tune that we find in most American hymnals, Nettleton, written by John Wyeth. The best hymns are always a weaving of words and music into a whole that is greater than either part alone.

1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

My favorite verse, one that always sends chills up my spine, is the last verse still in use in a number of hymnals.

4. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Gospel-type Hymns and Songs
Blessed Assurance- Fanny Crosby (1873)
Fanny Crosby, 1820-1915, was an American mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing more than 8,000 hymns and gospel songs, with more than 100 million copies printed, despite being blind from shortly after birth. She is also known for her teaching and her rescue mission work. -Wikipedia

Crosby was visiting her friend Phoebe Knapp as the Knapp home was having a large pipe organ installed. The organ was incomplete, so Mrs. Knapp, using the piano, played a new melody she had just composed. When Knapp asked Crosby, "What do you think the tune says?", Crosby replied, "Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine." -Wikipedia
1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

2. Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

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