333. Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers
st. 1-2 = Matt. 25:1-13
Considered to be one of the finest hymn writers of the Pietistic period, Laurentius Laurenti wrote this text based on the parable of the wise and foolish maidens (Matt. 25: 1-13; see also 613). Stanzas 1 and 2 focus on the expected coming of the bridegroom; stanza 3 is a prayer for Christ's return to complete the work of redemption and to set his people free.
Born Lorenz Lorenzen (b. Husum, Schleswig, Germany, 1660; d. Bremen, Germany, 1722) in Schleswig (which at various times has been ruled by Denmark), Laurenti studied at the University of Rostock and in Kiel. In 1684 he moved to Bremen, where he was appointed music director and cantor in the Lutheran Cathedral Church. A well known writer of German hymns in the Pietist tradition, Laurenti based most of his hymn texts on the gospel lessons for the church year. They were published in Evangelia Melodica (1700).
Sarah Borthwick Findlater (b. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1823; d. Torquay, England, 907) translated the text into English and published it in Hymns from the Land of Luther (1854), a collection of 122 hymns translated by her (53 hymns) and her sister Jane Orthwick. Findlater was a fine linguist; as a translator of German chorales, she is considered second only to Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194). Findlater's husband, Eric John, was a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland in Lochearnhead, Perthshire. The Findlater parsonage was known as being literate and hospitable.
During Advent, focusing on Christ's second coming.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
GREENLAND, an example of the popular nineteenth-century practice of creating hymn tunes from the works of classical composers, is thought to be originally from one of J. Michael Haydn's (PHH 67) "Deutschen Kirchen Messen." The tune acquired its title from its occasional association with the text "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" by Reginald Heber (PHH 249).
The harmonization is from Benjamin Jacob's National Psalmody (1819). Jacob (b. London, England, 1778; d. London, 1829) became the organist of Salem Chapel in Soho, London, at age ten. Known as one of the best organists of his day, he was also active as a pianist and conductor. He included his own tunes and harmonizations as well as those of others in the 1819 hymnbook he compiled.
GREENLAND has a large range, strong high points, and a rising "rocket" figure at the beginning of the fourth line. It is well suited to choral harmony with brass accompaniment. Because the first two stanzas are sung by believers to believers, the congregation could divide as follows: women on stanza 1; men on stanza 2; all on stanza 3. Sing the hymn with a great sense of rejoicing, but note the change (st. 2-3) to a sense of hopeful expectation that Christ will soon return.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook