Music Notes for the Last Sunday After Epiphany — February 11, 2024

Christ, Upon the Mountain Peak – Text: Brian Wren (b. 1936) / Music: 12th-century melody; harm. G. R. Woodward (1848-1934)

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Written by Brian Wren at Mansfield College, Oxford, in 1962, Christ, Upon the Mountain Peak, this Sunday’s final hymn in church, was the second hymn that Wren wrote. Brian Wren is a major British figure in the revival of contemporary hymn writing. He studied French literature at New College and theology at Mansfield College in Oxford, England. Ordained in 1965, he was pastor of the Congregational Church (now United Reformed) in Hockley and Hawkwell, Essex, from 1965 to 1970. He worked for the British Council of Churches and several other organizations involved in fighting poverty and promoting peace and justice. This work resulted in his writing of Education for Justice (1977) and Patriotism and Peace (1983). With a ministry throughout the English-speaking world, Wren now resides in the United States where he is active as a freelance lecturer, preacher, and full-time hymn writer.

The text of Christ, Upon the Mountain Peak is based on the gospel story of Christ’s transfiguration from Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-9, and Luke 9:28-36. Powerfully poetic, the text not only captures something of the awe in the event—we share in the awe as we sing “Alleluia”—but also presents a cosmic picture: the saints, angels, prophets, all nations, and the whole creation bring praise to the revealed Son of God.

Christ, upon the mountain peak
Stands alone in glory blazing.
Let us, if we dare to speak,
With the saints and angels praise him—
Alleluya, Alleluya, Alleluya!

Trembling at his feet we saw
Moses and Elijah speaking.
All the prophets and the Law
Shout through them their joyful greeting.—
Alleluya, Alleluya, Alleluya!

Swift the cloud of glory came,
God proclaiming in its thunder
Jesus as his Son by name!
Nations, cry aloud in wonder!—
Alleluya, Alleluya, Alleluya!

This is God’s beloved Son!
Law and prophets sing before him;
First and last, and only One,
Let Creation now adore him:
Alleluya, Alleluya, Alleluya!

Gerald Harder