Music for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost — June 27, 2021
Omnes gentes plaudite manibus – Christopher Tye (1506-1572)
Christopher Tye’s career straddles the reigns of Henry, Edward, and Mary, and he survived until the early 1570s, spending most of the final, Elizabethan portion of his life as a priest in the Diocese of Ely. His psalm motet Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus may be from the time of either Henry or Mary, though its concision and tightly wound rhythmic drive, and the fact that it remains in duple metre throughout, perhaps suggest the latter reign. The voices—especially the treble and countertenor—maintain a high tessitura throughout. This produces a brilliant sound entirely appropriate to the text from Psalm 47, which is often associated with the Feast of the Ascension, and the first three verses of which are also the text of the ancient proper Introit for this Sunday.
Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus; jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis:
quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis, rex magnus super omnem terram.
Subjecit populos nobis, et gentes sub pedibus nostris.
Elegit nobis haereditatem suam; speciem Jacob quam dilexit.
Ascendit Deus in jubilo, et Dominus in voce tubae.
Psallite Deo nostro, psallite; psallite regi nostro, psallite;
quoniam rex omnis terrae Deus, psallite sapienter.
Regnabit Deus super gentes; Deus sedet super sedem sanctam suam.
Principes populorum congregati sunt cum Deo Abraham,
quoniam dii fortes terrae vehementer elevati sunt.
O clap your hands together, all ye people: O sing unto God with the voice of melody.
For the Lord is high, and to be feared: he is the great King upon all the earth.
He shall subdue the people under us: and the nations under our feet.
He shall choose out an heritage for us: even the worship of Jacob, whom he loved.
God is gone up with a merry noise: and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
O sing praises, sing praises unto our God: O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.
For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.
God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon his holy seat.
The princes of the people are joined unto the people of the God of Abraham:
for God, which is very high exalted, doth defend the earth, as it were with a shield.
Jesu, the very thought of thee – Text: Latin (Jesu dulcis memoria, 12th cent.); tr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878) / Music: Gordon Archbold Slater (1896-1979), arr. Paul Halley (b. 1952)
For many years it had been assumed that Bernard of Clairvaux was the author of the Latin poem of 42 stanzas beginning ‘Jesu dulcis memoria’. However, though it is in keeping with his spirit and mediaeval piety, there is no proof that he wrote it. The consensus among hymnologists now is that it was written by a member of the Cistercian order in England around the end of the 12th century. In one translation or another the hymn has been very popular in the church; it appeared in over 80 hymnals in English in the 20th century alone. One of the best translations is that of Edward Caswall, from which both Common Praise and The New English Hymnal have taken this cento. Caswall was a priest in the Church of England who later in life took up orders in the church of Rome. He was the translator of about 200 Latin hymns, and published them in a succession of books beginning with Lyra Catholica.
The variable accentual pattern in the successive stanzas has made it difficult for music editors to choose a suitable tune for the hymn. No fewer than 28 different tunes have been associated with the text in the past century. St Botolph, the tune selected for this hymn in both of our hymnals, was written by Gordon Slater, Organist & Choirmaster at Lincoln Cathedral from 1930 until 1966. Paul Halley, who holds the position of music director at both the University of King’s College and All Saints Cathedral in Halifax, has created an arrangement of Slater’s melody which is lush and lyrical, a beautiful watercolour of vocal harmonies and organ line.
Jesu, the very thought of thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see,
And in thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but his loved ones know.
Jesu, our only joy be thou,
As thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now,
And through eternity.