478. Tell Out, My Soul

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Text Information
First Line: Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
Title: Tell Out, My Soul
Author: Timothy Dudley-Smith (1961)
Meter: 10 10 10 10
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ;
Topic: Alternative Harmonizations; Redemption; Advent (1 more...)
Copyright: Text © 1962, Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Used by permission
Tune Information
Composer: Walter Greatorex (1916, alt.)
Meter: 10 10 10 10
Key: D Major
Copyright: By permission of Oxford University Press

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Luke 1:46-55

One of the first hymn texts written by Timothy Dudley-Smith (PHH 233), this free paraphrase of the Song of Mary from Luke 1:46-55 is his best known. It was first published in the Anglican Hymn Book (1965). Dudley-Smith writes of this text:

I did not think of myself . . . as having in any way the gifts of a hymn-writer when in May 1961 I jotted down a set of verses, beginning "Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord." I was reading a review copy of the New English Bible New Testament, in which that line appears exactly as I have put it above; I saw in it the first line of a poem, and speedily wrote the rest (Dudley-Smith 1984).

The text calls us to proclaim the greatness "of the Lord" (st. 1), "of his name" (st. 2), "of his might" (st. 3), and "of his word" (st. 4). The text's strong language captures the spirit of Mary's exuberant song of praise to God. The powerful text contrasts with the humble meditative setting of the Song of Mary at 212. A third, partial setting of Mary's Song is found at 622–sung to a Taize round.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; Christmas; other services in which a jubilant setting of the Song of Mary is appropriate; Mary's Song is traditionally appointed for vespers; see additional comments at PHH 212.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

WOODLANDS is a perfect match for the bold text. Walter Greatorex (b. Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England, 1877; d. Bournemouth, Hampshire, England, 1949) composed this tune in 1916, and it was published in the Public School Hymn Book in 1919. The tune's title refers to one of the schoolhouses at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, where Greatorex was director of music from 1911-1936. Before that he served as assistant music master at Uppingham School in Rutland (1900-1910). Greatorex's musical education began as a chorister at King's College, Cambridge, England, and he received his university music training at St. John's College, Cambridge.

A dramatic tune, WOODLANDS is marked by irresistible melodic gestures and by the "breathless" cadence of line 2, which propels us forward into line 3. The alternate harmonization provided is his original; use that for stanza 4. Sing in strong unison throughout with a full organ and brass for festive services. Try having the full choir sing up an octave for the final two measures of stanzas 3 and 4.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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