233. Heavenly Hosts in Ceaseless Worship

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Hope Publishing: one copy

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You may download one copy of this selection for your own personal use. To make any further copies or to perform the work you must get permission from Hope Publishing Company or belong to and report the copying activity to CCLI, LicenSing or OneLicense.net. By selecting "I Agree" you are verifying that you reside in the U.S. or Canada and will only legally use this selection.

Text Information
First Line: Heavenly hosts in ceaseless worship
Title: Heavenly Hosts in Ceaseless Worship
Versifier: Timothy Dudley-Smith (1972)
Meter: 87 87 D
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Praise & Adoration; Lamb of God; New Creation
Copyright: © 1975, Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Used by permission
Tune Information
Name: BETHANY
Composer: Henry Smart (1867)
Meter: 87 87 D
Key: E♭ Major


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Rev. 4:8-11
st. 2 = Rev. 5:9-13

This versification of Revelation 4:8-11 and 5:9-13 incorporates phrases from the five doxologies recorded in Revelation 4-5: the four living creatures sing, "Holy, holy, holy. . ." (4:8); the twenty four elders sing, "You are worthy. . ." (4: 11; see also 232); the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders together sing a new song: "You are worthy . . ." (5:9-10); a multitude of angels sing, "Worthy is the Lamb. . ." (5:12); and all creatures in heaven and on earth sing, “To him who sits on the throne...” (5:13). This is an awesome vision in which ever-greater numbers of creatures gather to sing praise to God and to the Lamb. Our singing could follow the same plan by gradually adding voices and instruments every two lines, until reaching a glorious conclusion to this powerful doxology. A three-stanza version could begin with a few singers on stanza 2, then more singers on stanza 1, this time in harmony.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. Manchester, England, 1926) versified this passage in 1972; it was first published in the British collection Psalm Praise (1973). Educated at Pembroke College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Dudley-Smith has served the Church of England since his ordination in 1950. He has occupied a number of church positions, including parish priest in the diocese of Southwark (1953-1962), archdeacon of Norwich (1973-1981), and bishop of Thetford, Norfolk, from 1981 until his retirement in 1992. He also edited a Christian magazine, Crusade, which was founded after Billy Graham's 1955 London crusade. Dudley-Smith began writing comic verse while a student at Cambridge; he did not begin to write hymns until the 1960s. Many of his several hundred hymn texts have been collected in Lift Every Heart: Collected Hymns 1961-1983 (1984), Songs of Deliverance: Thirty-six New Hymns (1988), and A Voice of Singing (1993). The writer of Christian Literature and the Church (1963), Someone Who Beckons (1978), and Praying with the English Hymn Writers (1989), Dudley-Smith has also served on various editorial committees, including the committee that published Psalm Praise (1973).

Liturgical Use:
As a song of praise and worship at the beginning of the service, or (more likely) as a doxology at the end–great for worship services focusing on Christ's second coming.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

BETHANY, named after the village near Jerusalem, is a suitably dramatic tune for the song text. It was composed by Henry Smart (b. Marylebone, London, England, 1813; d. Hampstead, London, 1879), a capable composer of church music who wrote some very fine hymn tunes (REGENT SQUARE, 354, is the best-known). He originally composed BETHANY for the text “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken”; it was first published in Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867). Though Smart favored unison singing, which works well, especially with all the stops pulled out and the tempo increased on stanza 2, the harmonization is quite accessible to part singing. (Note: this BETHANY should not be confused with one composed by Lowell Mason in 1856 and first published as a setting for "Nearer, My God, to Thee.")

Smart gave up a career in the legal profession for one in music. Although largely self taught, he became proficient in organ playing and composition, and he was a music teacher and critic. Organist in a number of London churches, including St. Luke's, Old Street (1844-1864), and St. Pancras (1864-1869), Smart was famous for his extemporizations and for his accompaniment of congregational singing. He became completely blind at the age of fifty-two, but his remarkable memory enabled him to continue playing the organ. Fascinated by organs as a youth, Smart designed organs for important places such as St. Andrew Hall in Glasgow and the Town Hall in Leeds. He composed an opera, oratorios, part-songs, some instrumental music, and many hymn tunes, as well as a large number of works for organ and choir. He edited the Choralebook (1858), the English Presbyterian Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867), and the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal (1875). Some of his hymn tunes were first published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861).

--Psalter Hymnal Hadnbook


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