Music for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost — July 16, 2023

O Praise Ye the Lord – Text: Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) / Music: Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)

Based on Psalm 150, the final hymn in church this Sunday – O Praise Ye the Lord – first appeared in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern 1875. Of all the hymns Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) wrote, this is considered the best. Baker was born in Vauxhall, London, England and attended Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1844 and ordained that same year. He succeeded to the baronetcy in 1859. A lifelong student of hymnody, he was one of the original members of the committee for Hymns Ancient & Modern in 1859. As its chairman, Sir Henry claimed the prerogative of an editor and made whatever alterations he saw fit. By all accounts, he was very busy with his red pencil, and many of his emendations have been generally accepted as improvements. However, they irritated some people, especially one irate author who claimed that A&M really stood for ‘Asked-for & Mutilated’!

There was “no side of musical life in England which was not the better and nobler because he had lived.” So Sir W H Hadow wrote about his friend, Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), the composer of LAUDATE DOMINUM, the tune to which O Praise Ye the Lord is sung. In Parry the English choral tradition, virtually dormant for two centuries following Henry Purcell, awakened with new energy. Parry was not first and foremost a church musician, but he certainly knew how to write an imaginative tune for voices. At least twenty of his tunes have found their way into hymnals, and it is remarkable that the best of them were not designed for hymns at all. LAUDATE DOMINUM, for example, is the concluding section to the anthem “Hear my words, O ye people”, written for the Salisbury Diocesan Festival Association in 1894. Its name is derived from the Latin incipit to Psalm 150.

O PRAISE ye the Lord!
Praise him in the height;
Rejoice in his word,
Ye angels of light;
Ye heavens adore him
By whom you were made,
And worship before him,
In brightness arrayed.

O praise ye the Lord!
Praise him on the earth,
In tuneful accord,
Ye sons of new birth;
Praise him who has brought you
His grace from above,
Praise him who has taught you
To sing of his love.

O praise ye the Lord!
All things that give sound;
Each jubilant chord,
Re-echo around;
Loud organs, his glory
Forth tell in deep tone,
And sweet harp, the story
Of what he has done.

O praise ye the Lord!
Thanksgiving and song
To him be out-poured
All ages along:
For love in creation,
For heaven restored,
For grace of salvation,
O praise ye the Lord!

Gerald Harder