Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The source of this hymn is a 7th century Latin hymn, Jesu nostra redemptio, Amor et desiderium. John Chandler (1806-1876) translated it into English. He was one of the earliest and most successful translators of Latin hymns. Noting that many of the prayers of the Church of England were translations of ancient prayers, he thought the church should sing hymns from that era as well. He published his work in The Hymns of the Primitive Church (1837 and 1841).

This hymn honours Christ as Creator, Saviour and King (st. 1); meditates on His love for us which led Him to the cross (st. 2); proclaims His victory over death and His ascension to heaven and session at the right hand of God (st. 3); and ends with a doxology of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ (st. 4).

The tune, MANOAH, was composed by Henry W. Greatorex (1813-1858). Greatorex got his early musical training from his father, organist at Westminster Abbey. He emigrated to America in 1839, and was organist in a number of churches. His Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1851) contained thirty-seven of his own compositions and arrangements. Greatorex gave arbitrary names to his tunes: Manoah was the father of Samson in the OT. "Manoah" means "rest." Perhaps there is a connection there. It is a very peaceful tune.

Above the name of the tune, you will see the letters "CM." That stands for Common Metre (86 86). According to, there are at least 337 tunes to that metre. No wonder it is call "the common metre." A number of our existing hymns in the Book of Praise are set to the same metre.

Sources: Psalter Hymnal Handbook; Internet

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