Music for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost — July 9, 2023

Lord of all hopefulness – Text: Jan Struther (1901-1953) / Music: Melody Irish trad.

Click to view video

Probably the finest of the ‘all day’ hymns, the final hymn this Sunday in church was written by Jan Struther and submitted to the editors of Songs of Praise 1931, along with several other hymns. It was written to the tune Slane, expressly to ensure the retention of that tune. Nearly one hundred years later, the author’s style still seems contemporary, and her language, typically, abounds with vitality and optimism. Educated privately in London, as early as 1917 she started contributing articles, poems and short stories to periodicals. Her most famous work was Mrs Miniver in 1940, a novel about a typical English middle-class household just prior to World War II.

Slane is a traditional Irish melody from Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs, where it is set to the ancient ballad, “With my love on the road.” A singularly attractive melody, wide in compass and without any trace of repetition, it has appeared in many hymnals, most typically as a setting for the hymn “Be thou my vision.” Slane is the name of a hill about ten miles from Tara in County Meath in Ireland.

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Gerald Harder