Posted by: rcottrill | January 24, 2014

Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart

Graphic Bob and Christmas Book (2)HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
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3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.

Words: Edward Hayes Plumptre (b. Aug. 6, 1821; d. Feb. 1, 1891)
Music: Marion, by Arthur Henry Messiter (b. Apr. 12, 1834; d. July 2, 1916)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Graphic Peterborough CathedralNote: Dr. Plumptre was known as an outstanding preacher and theologian in England, as well as a gifted poet with several volumes of verse to his credit. Arthur Messiter was the long-time organist of Trinity Church, in New York City. Marion was his mother’s name.

The hymn was written in May of 1865, for use at the annual choral festival at Peterborough Cathedral, in Cambridgeshire, England. The Cathedral (seen here), massive and spectacularly beautiful, dates from the twelfth century. The Wordwise Hymns link will give you a rousing choral version of the hymn.

The Cyber Hymnal gives us eleven stanzas, including a doxology at the end. In some stanzas little used now, one can detect the original purpose of this great song of praise, which was to serve as a processional hymn, at the beginning of a choral festival. See, for example, CH-3 and 6.

CH-3) Yes onward, onward still
With hymn, and chant and song,
Through gate, and porch and columned aisle,
The hallowed pathways throng.

Rejoice, rejoice!
Rejoice, give thanks and sing.

CH-6) With voice as full and strong
As ocean’s surging praise,
Send forth the hymns our fathers loved,
The psalms of ancient days.

Again, the length of the original hymn is related to its purpose. With a gathering of church choirs from many congregations, the processional at the festival could take as long as half an hour! Present hymnals that I’ve seen use a selection of the stanzas, with CH-1, 7 and 10 common to many. A few hymn books include the doxology at the end.

CH-11) Praise Him who reigns on high,
The Lord whom we adore,
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
One God forevermore.

Amazingly, the word rejoice (in its various forms), plus words such as joy and gladness, are found in our English Bibles about six hundred times. Not surprisingly, the book of Psalms, with its emphasis on praise and worship, contains the most (142). Of further interest is the fact that the first mention of rejoicing has to do with what the Lord did for Israel, the last mention of the word concerns the future blessing of the church, the heavenly bride of Christ.

“Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians” (Exod. 18:9).

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb [Christ] has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

The two Bible verses that Edward Plumptre particularly had in mind, as he developed his theme, were Psalm 20:5 and Philippians 4:4.

“We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners!” (Ps. 20:5). “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).

Rejoicing in salvation–the two are often linked (e.g. Ps. 13:5; 21:1; 35:9; 40:16). As believers, that should be a theme we often take up in word and song. The gospel is “glad tidings,” and definitely a theme prompting joy.

“As it is written [in Isa. 52:7]: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad [joyful] tidings of good things!’” (Rom. 10:15; cf. Lk. 2:10-11).

CH-1) Rejoice ye pure in heart;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your glorious banner wave on high,
The cross of Christ your King.

CH-4) With all the angel choirs,
With all the saints of earth,
Pour out the strains of joy and bliss,
True rapture, noblest mirth.

1) What are some things about the gospel that make it particularly joyful news?

2) What other hymns emphasizing the sentiment of joy and rejoicing do you know and use?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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