Easter Hymn: Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah

No song evokes the glory and joy of Easter like Handel’s Messiah.

Courtesy of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, a live performance of this amazing piece.

The critically-acclaimed concert features the Academy of Ancient Music conducted by Stephen Cleobury together with with soloists Ailish Tynan, Alice Coote, Allan Clayton and Matthew Rose, and the King’s College Choir. The concert commemorated both the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel and the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Your Sunday Hymn: God of Mercy and Compassion

The Irish Philharmonic Orchestra sings the Lenten hymn, God of Mercy and Compassion. From the double CD collection of ‘Classic religious anthems of Ireland.’

It’s a lovely, traditional French melody by 18th century Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, (1710-1736.)


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Your Sunday Hymn: Lord of All Hopefulness

Lord of Hopefulness (like Be Thou My Vision) is set to the popular Irish melody Slane. This choral arrangement is just lovely.

The Story Behind The Hymn:

Joyce Torrens (1901-53), who wrote under the name of Jan Struther, became famous for a newspaper column in which she presented herself in the character of Mrs Miniver, a briskly sensible and humorous middle-class woman whose spirit seemed to embody a certain sort of plucky Englishness.

Mrs Miniver was turned into a film in 1942: heavily promoted in the USA, where it won the Oscar for Best Picture, it became crucial in the effort to woo American public opinion to support entry into the war against Hitler.

There was not a single battle scene in the film, yet through its portrayal of the hardships suffered and overcome by a middle-class English family during the Blitz, it aroused the sympathy of ordinary Americans most effectively.

This hymn was written in 1929 at the request of Torrens’s London neighbour, Canon Percy Dearmer of Westminster Abbey, for his new edition of Songs of Praise.

Dearmer was delighted by its success, announcing in Songs of Praise Discussed (1933) that he was “lately returned from a service of university students, who have speedily made it their favourite”.

JR Watson calls it “entirely characteristic of its age, forward-looking, non-doctrinal, non-sectarian” and highlights its decision – quite daring at the time – to replace “Thy” with “You”. Torrens herself – whose interest in Christianity was minimal – chose the shapely tune Slane, an old Irish melody.


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Your Sunday Hymn: How Can I Keep From Singing

There are so many delightful versions of this popular hymn on Youtube, it was hard to choose just one – (so I chose several.) Here are the T Sisters with their rendition:

The Oakwood University Aeolians: Their lovely soprano’s opening will knock your socks off.

Here’s an arrangement by the composer Z Randall Stroope.   Vijay Singh leads the Central Washington University Chorale.


How Can I Keep from Singing

1 My life flows on in endless song,

above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

2 Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]

3 What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth. [Refrain]

4 The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #821

Author: Robert Lowry

Robert Lowry was born in Philadelphia, March 12, 1826. His fondness for music was exhibited in his earliest years. As a child he amused himself with the various musical instruments that came into his hands. At the age of seventeen he joined the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, and soon became an active worker in the Sunday-school as teacher and chorister. At the age of twenty-two he gave himself to the work of the ministry, and entered upon a course of study at the University of Lewisburg, Pa. At the age of twenty-eight he was graduated with the highest honors of his class. In the same year of his graduation, he entered upon the work of the ministry. He served as pastor at AVest Chester, Pa., 1851-1858; in New York City, 1859-1861;