397. Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing
While Headmaster of Eton College, Cyril A. Alington (b. Ipswich, England, 1872; d. St. Leonards, Hertfordshire, England, 1955) wrote this text for Melchior Vulpius's tune GELOBT SEI GOTT. The hymn was published in Songs of Praise (1931). Stanley L. Osborne (PHH 395) has written of Alington's stanzas, “They vibrate with excitement, they utter the encouragement of victory, and they stir the heart to praise and thanksgiving" (If Such Holy Song, 469). This text should not be mistaken for its Christmas counter¬part "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice" (355); both texts originally began, "Good Christian men, rejoice."
A strong text for Easter, "Good Christians All" rings in the victory of Christ's resurrections so that "all the world" will know the news. Each stanza encourages us to tell the good news and praise the "Lord of life," and ends with an exciting three-fold "alleluia."
Educated at Trinity College, Oxford, England, Alington was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1901. He had a teaching career that included being headmaster at Shrewsbury School and Eton College. He was dean of Durham from 1933-1951 as well as chaplain to the king of England. His writings include literary works and Christianity in England, Good News (1945). Many of his hymns appeared in various twentieth-century editions of the famous British hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern.
Easter season; many other worship services.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Melchior Vulpius (b. Wasungen, Henneberg, Germany, c. 1570; d. Weimar, Germany, 1615) composed this tune as a setting for Michael Weisse's hymn "Gelobt sei Gott in höchsten Thron." Weisse's text was published with the tune in Vulpius's Ein Schon Geistlich Gesangbuch (1609). Because the text dates from the early sixteenth century, some scholars think the tune may have older roots.
Born into a poor family named Fuchs, Vulpius had only limited educational opportunities and did not attend the university. He taught Latin in the school in Schleusingen, where he Latinized his surname, and from 1596 until his death served as a Lutheran cantor and teacher in Weimar. A distinguished composer, Vulpius wrote a St. Matthew Passion (1613), nearly two hundred motets in German and Latin, and over four hundred hymn tunes, many of which became popular in Lutheran churches, and some of which introduced the lively Italian balletto rhythms into the German hymn tunes. His music was published in Cantiones Sacrae (1602, 1604), Kirchengesangund Geistliche Lieder (1604, enlarged as Ein schon geistlich Gesanglmch, 1609), and posthumous¬ly in Cantionale Sacrum (1646).
An exuberant tune, GELOBT SEI GOTT (also known as VULPIUS) is in triple meter. It reveals a Baroque playfulness in the syncopations in lines 2 and 3. Although the refrain is barred in triple meter, Germans would have sung it in duple meter with an accent on the second syllable of "alleluia."
Sing in unison or in parts. Try an antiphonal performance in which the choir or antiphonal groups sing the stanzas and the congregation sings the refrain. Choir sopranos could sing the descant by Emily R. Brink (PHH 158) on the refrain. Try also to sing one of the middle stanzas unaccompanied. Use strong, rhythmically precise organ accompaniment, especially on the cadences in phrases 2 and 3. On an average Sunday C major is a suitable key, but try D major on Easter Sunday or other festive days because that key is brighter. "Good Christians All" is also a wonderful piece for a brass choir.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook