Music for Pentecost 8 — July 31 2022

Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies – Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788) / Music: Choral-buchLeipzig 1815; adapt. and harm. William Henry Havergal (1793-1870).

View video here

This Sunday’s opening hymn in church (Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies) evoked much praise from James Montgomery, who, at the beginning of the 19th century, himself occupied the front rank of hymn writers. Montgomery regarded it as “one of Charles Wesley’s loveliest progeny.” The Wesleys included the hymn in three stanzas of six lines in Hymns and Sacred Poems 1740. The lines radiate joy, the kind of joy that inspires faith and disperses gloom. Charles Wesley explained his use of “sun of righteousness” by citing Malachi 4:2: “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise.”

The tune Ratisbon appears to have been derived from a melody in J. G. Werner’s Choral-buch, Leipzig 1815, set to “Jesu, meines Lebens Leben.” Rarely does one find a chorale that does not bear the opening phrase of its text as its name, but this is one. Our Common Praise hymnal suggests a 16th-century source, but in either case, the melody as adapted and harmonized by William Henry Havergal. How the name Ratisbon came to be chosen for this tune is not known, although there is a city in Germany, at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, formerly known as Ratisbon. Dating from the first century, it is now known as Regensburg.

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise!
Triumph o’er the shades of night:
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day’s return
till thy mercy’s beams I see,
till they inward light impart,
glad my eyes and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine,
pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, Radiancy divine,
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.

Gerald Harder