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Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958 Meter: Appears in 10 hymnals Matching Instances: 9 Tune Key: f minor Incipit: 51232 17152 33217 Used With Text: The great forerunner of the morn


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O Chief of Cities, Bethlehem

Author: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413 Meter: Appears in 3 hymnals Matching Instances: 2 Lyrics: 1 O chief of cities, Bethlehem, Of David’s crown the fairest gem, But more to us than David’s name, In you, as man, the Savior came. 2 Beyond the sun in splendor bright, Above you stands a wondrous light Proclaiming from the conscious skies That here, in flesh, the Godhead lies. 3 The Wise Men, seeing him so fair, Bow low before him, and with prayer Their treasured eastern gifts unfold Of incense, myrrh, and royal gold. 4 The golden tribute owns him king, But frankincense to God they bring, And last, prophetic sign, with myrrh They shadow forth his sepulcher. 5 O Jesus, whom the Gentiles see, With Father, Spirit, One in Three: To you, O God, be glory giv’n By saints on earth and saints in heav’n. Topics: Epiphany; Epiphany Used With Tune: TRUTH FROM ABOVE Text Sources: Tr. composite, alt.

The great forerunner of the morn

Author: The Venerable Bede 673-735; J. M. Neale, 1818-1866 Meter: Appears in 21 hymnals Matching Instances: 1 Topics: Saints St. John the Baptist Scripture: John 5:38 Used With Tune: THE TRUTH FROM ABOVE

Hear me, O Lord, in my distress

Author: David G. Preston (b. 1939) Meter: Appears in 1 hymnal Matching Instances: 1 Topics: Deliverance; Despair and Trouble; Discipleship; God Will of; Lament; Lent; Longing; Prayer; Sorrow; Suffering; The First Sunday of Lent Year A; The Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C; Canticles and Affirmations of Faith; Sorrow and Lament Scripture: Psalm 143 Used With Tune: THE TRUTH FROM ABOVE


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Published text-tune combinations (hymns) from specific hymnals

O Chief of Cities, Bethlehem

Author: Aurelius Prudentius, 348-413 Hymnal: The Cyber Hymnal #4730 Meter: Lyrics: 1. O chief of cities, Bethlehem, Of David’s crown the fairest gem, But more to us than David’s name, In you, as man, the Savior came. 2. Beyond the sun in splendor bright, Above you stands a wondrous light Proclaiming from the conscious skies That here, in flesh, the Godhead lies. 3. The wise men, seeing Him so fair, Bow low before Him, and with prayer Their treasured eastern gifts unfold Of incense, myrrh, and royal gold. 4. The golden tribute owns Him King, But frankincense to God they bring, And last, prophetic sign, with myrrh, They shadow forth His sepulcher. 5. O Jesus, whom the Gentiles see, With Father, Spirit, One in Three: To You, O God, be glory giv’n By saints on earth and saints in Heav’n. Languages: English Tune Title: TRUTH FROM ABOVE

These Things Did Thomas Count as Real

Author: Thomas H. Troeger, b. 1945 Hymnal: Hymnal Supplement 98 #831 (1998) Meter: Topics: Easter; Faith Scripture: John 20:19-31 Languages: English Tune Title: TRUTH FROM ABOVE

This is the truth sent from above

Hymnal: Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #678 (2000) Meter: Lyrics: 1 This is the truth sent from above, the truth of God, the God of love; therefore don't turn me from the door but hearken all, both rich and poor. 2 The first thing that I will relate, that God at first did man create; the next thing which to you I tell - woman was made with him to dwell. 3 Then after that 'twas God's own choice to place them both in paradise, there to remain from evil free except they ate of such a tree. 4 But they did eat, which was a sin, and thus their ruin did begin - ruined themselves, both you and me, and all of our posterity. 5 Thus we were heirs to endless woes till God the Lord did interpose; and so a promise soon did run: that he'd redeem us by his Son. 6 At at this season of the year our blest Redeemer did appear, and here did live, and here did preach, and many thousands he did teach. 7 Thus he in love to us behaved, to show us how we must be saved; and if you want to know the way, be pleased to hear what he did say: 8 'Go preach the gospel,' now he said, 'to all the nations that are made! And those that do believe on me, from all their sins I'll set them free.' 9 O seek! O seek of God above that saving faith that works by love! And, if he's pleased to grant thee this, thou't sure to have eternal bliss. 10 God grant to all within this place true saving faith, that special grace which to his people doth belong: and thus I chose my Christmas song. Topics: Advent; Christmas Scripture: Genesis 1:3 Languages: English Tune Title: THE TRUTH FROM ABOVE


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Authors, composers, editors, etc.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

1872 - 1958 Person Name: Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958 Harmonizer of "TRUTH FROM ABOVE" in Singing the Living Tradition Through his composing, conducting, collecting, editing, and teaching, Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England, October 12, 1872; d. Westminster, London, England, August 26, 1958) became the chief figure in the realm of English music and church music in the first half of the twentieth century. His education included instruction at the Royal College of Music in London and Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as additional studies in Berlin and Paris. During World War I he served in the army medical corps in France. Vaughan Williams taught music at the Royal College of Music (1920-1940), conducted the Bach Choir in London (1920-1927), and directed the Leith Hill Music Festival in Dorking (1905-1953). A major influence in his life was the English folk song. A knowledgeable collector of folk songs, he was also a member of the Folksong Society and a supporter of the English Folk Dance Society. Vaughan Williams wrote various articles and books, including National Music (1935), and composed numerous arrange­ments of folk songs; many of his compositions show the impact of folk rhythms and melodic modes. His original compositions cover nearly all musical genres, from orchestral symphonies and concertos to choral works, from songs to operas, and from chamber music to music for films. Vaughan Williams's church music includes anthems; choral-orchestral works, such as Magnificat (1932), Dona Nobis Pacem (1936), and Hodie (1953); and hymn tune settings for organ. But most important to the history of hymnody, he was music editor of the most influential British hymnal at the beginning of the twentieth century, The English Hymnal (1906), and coeditor (with Martin Shaw) of Songs of Praise (1925, 1931) and the Oxford Book of Carols (1928). Bert Polman

Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

348 - 410 Person Name: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413 Author of "O Chief of Cities, Bethlehem" in Lutheran Book of Worship Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, "The Christian Pindar" was born in northern Spain, a magistrate whose religious convictions came late in life. His subsequent sacred poems were literary and personal, not, like those of St. Ambrose, designed for singing. Selections from them soon entered the Mozarabic rite, however, and have since remained exquisite treasures of the Western churches. His Cathemerinon liber, Peristephanon, and Psychomachia were among the most widely read books of the Middle Ages. A concordance to his works was published by the Medieval Academy of America in 1932. There is a considerable literature on his works. --The Hymnal 1940 Companion ============= Prudentius, Aurelius Clemens , with the occasional prefix of Marcus (cf. Migne, vol. lix. p. 593, and Dressel, p. ii. n), is the name of the most prominent and most prolific author of sacred Latin poetry in its earliest days. Of the writer himself we know nothing, or next to nothing, beyond what he has himself told us in a short introduction in verse to his works. From that source we learn that he was a Spaniard, of good family evidently, and that he was born A.D. 348 somewhere in the north of Spain, either at Saragossa, Tarragona, or Calahorra, but at which is left uncertain, by his applying the same expression to all, which if applied only to one would have fixed his place of birth. After receiving a good education befitting his social status he applied himself for some years to practising as a pleader in the local courts of law, until he received promotion to a judgeship in two cities successively:— "Bis legum moderanrine Frenos nobilium reximus urbium Jus civile bonis reddidimus, terruimus reos;" and afterwards to a post of still higher authority: "Tandem militiae gradu Evectum pietas principis extulit." Archbishop Trench considers this last to have been "a high military appointment at court," and such the poet's own words would seem to describe; but it may well be doubted whether a civilian and a lawyer would be eligible for such employment; in which case we may adopt the solution of the difficulty offered in the Prolegomena to our author's works (Migne, vol. lix. p. 601):— "Evectus indeest ad superiorem rnilitia? gradum, nimirum militia? civil is, palatinae, aut praesidialis, non bellicae, castrensis, aut cohortalis; nam ii qui officiis jure consultorum praesidum, rectorum et similium funguntur, vulgo in cod. Theod. militare et ad superiores militias ascendere dicuntur." It was after this lengthened experience at a comparatively early age of positions of trust and power that Prudentius, conscience-smitten on account of the follies and worldliness that had marked his youth and earlier manhood, determined to throw up all his secular employments, and devote the remainder of his life to advancing the interests of Christ's Church by the power of his pen rather than that of his purse and personal position. Accordingly we find that he retired in his 57th year into poverty and private life, and began that remarkable succession of sacred poems upon which his fame now entirely rests. We have no reason however to regard him as another St. Augustine, rescued from the "wretchedness of most unclean living" by this flight from the temptations and engrossing cares of official life into the calm seclusion of a wholly devotional leisure. He had probably rather learnt from sad experience the emptiness and vanity for an immortal soul of the surroundings of even the high places of this world. As he himself expresses it:— "Numquid talia proderunt Carnis post obitum vel bona, vel mala, Cum jam, quicquid id est, quod fueram, mors aboleverit?" and sought, at the cost of all that the world holds dear, those good things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Beyond the fact of his retirement from the world in this way, and the fruits which it produced in the shape of his voluminous contributions to sacred poetry, we have no further information about our author. To judge from the amount he wrote, his life must have been extended many years after he began his new career, but how long his life was or where he died we are not told. Probably he died circa 413. His works are:— (1) Liber Cathemerinon. "Christian Day, as we may call it" W. S. Lilly, "Chapters in European History," vol. i. p. 208). (2) Liber Peristephanon. "Martyrs' Garlands" (id.). (3) Apotheosis. A work on the Divine Nature, or the Deification of Human Nature in Christ. (4) Hamartigenia. A treatise on the Origin of Sin, directed against the Marcionites. (5) Psychomachia or "The Spiritual Combat"-—an allegorical work. (6) Libri contra Symmachum. A controversial work against the restoration in the Senate House at Rome of the altar of Victory which Gratian had removed. Symmachus had petitioned Valentinian II. for its restoration in 384, but the influence of St. Ambrose had prevailed against him at that time. In 392 the altar was restored, but removed again by Theodosius in 394. After the death of the latter the attempt to restore it was renewed by Arcadius and Honorius, and it was at that time that Prudentius wrote his first book. The second (for there are two) was written in 405. Fague considers that the first may date in 395. (7) The Dittochseon = the double food or double Testament, is a wordy collection of 49 sets of four verses each, on Old and New Testament scenes. Of these different works the most important are the first two, and it is from them that the Liturgical hymns enumerated below have been chiefly compiled. The general character of Prudentius's writings it is not easy fairly to estimate, and to judge by the wholesale laudation he obtains from some of his critics, and the equally unsparing censure of others, his judges have so found it. In venturing upon any opinion upon such a subject, the reader must bear in mind the peculiar position in which the period at which he was writing found the poet. The poetry of classical Rome in all its exact beauty of form had long passed its meridian, and was being replaced by a style which was yet in its infancy, but which burst forth into new life and beauty in the hands of the Mediaeval hymnologists. Prudentius wrote before rhyming Latin verse was thought of, but after attention had ceased to be given to quantities. Under such circumstances it were vain to look for very finished work from him, and such certainly we do not find. But amidst a good deal of what one must confess is tasteless verbiage or clumsy rhetorical ornament-—however varied the metres he employs, numbering some 17—-there are also passages to be found, not unfrequently, of dramatic vigour and noble expression, which may well hold their own with the more musical utterances of a later date. He writes as a man intensely in earnest, and we may gather much from his writings concerning the points of conduct which were deemed the most important in Christian living at a time when a great portion of mankind were still the victims or slaves of a morality which, heathen at the best, was lowered and corrupted the more as the universality of its influence was more and more successfully challenged by the spread of the Gospel of Christ. If, there¬fore, we can scarcely go as far in our author's praise as Barth—-much given to lavish commendation—-who describes him as "Poeta eximius eruditissimus et sanctissimus scriptor; nemo divinius de rebus Christianis unquam scripsit"; or as Bentley—-not given to praise--who calls him the "Horace and Virgil of the Christians," we shall be as loath, considering under what circumstances he wrote, to carp at his style as not being formed on the best ancient models but as confessedly impure; feeling with Archbishop Trench that it is his merit that "whether consciously or unconsciously, he acted on the principle that the new life claimed new forms in which to manifest itself; that he did not shrink from helping forward that great transformation of the Latin language, which it needed to undergo, now that it should be the vehicle of truths which, were all together novel to it." (Sacred Latin Poetry, 1874, p. 121.) The reader will find so exhaustive an account of the various writings of Prudentius in the account given of him and them in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography, and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, that it is only necessary in this work to refer very briefly to them as above. The poems have been constantly reprinted and re-edited, till the editor who produced the best edition we have of them, Albert Dressel (Leipsic, 1860), is able to say that his is the sixty-third. The use made of Prudentius's poems in the ancient Breviaries and Hymnaries was very extensive. In the form of centos stanzas and lines wore compiled and used as hymns; and it is mainly from these centos, and not from the original poems, that the translations into English were made. Daniel, i., Nos. 103-115, gives 13 genuine hymns as having been in use for "Morning," "Christmas," "Epiphany," "Lent," "Easter," "Transfiguration," "Burial," &c, in the older Breviaries. ….Many more which were used in like manner have been translated into English. When to these are added the hymns and those which have not been translated into English, we realise the position and power of Prudentius in the hymnody of the Church. [Rev. Digby S. Wrangham, M.A.] --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907) ============== Prudentius, A. C, p. 915, ii. Two somewhat full versions of Prudentius are: (1) The Cathemerinon and other Poems of Aurelius Prudentius Clemens in English Verse, Lond., Rivington, 1845; and (2) Translations from Prudentius. By Francis St. John Thackeray, M.A.. F.S.A. Lond., Bell & Sons, 1890. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)

The Venerable Bede

673 - 735 Person Name: The Venerable Bede, 673-735 Author of "The great forerunner of the morn" in The Hymnal 1982 Bede (b. circa 672-673; d. May 26, 735), also known as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede, was an English monk at Northumbrian monastery at Monkwearmouth (now Jarrow). Sent to the monastery at the young age of seven, he became deacon very early on, and then a priest at the age of thirty. An author and scholar, he is particularly known for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which gained him the title “Father of English History.” He also wrote many scientific and theological works, as well as poetry and music. Bede is the only native of Great Britain to have ever been made a Doctor of the Church. He died on Ascension Day, May 26, 735, and was buried in Durham Cathedral. Laura de Jong ========================== Bede, Beda, or Baeda, the Venerable. This eminent and early scholar, grammarian, philosopher, poet, biographer, historian, and divine, was born in 673, near the place where, shortly afterwards, Benedict Biscop founded the sister monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, on an estate conferred upon him by Ecgfrith, or Ecgfrid, king of Northumbria, possibly, as the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, Lives of the Saints (May), p. 399, suggests, "in the parish of Monkton, which appears to have been one of the earliest endowments of the monastery." His education was carried on at one or other of the monasteries under the care of Benedict Biscop until his death, and then of Ceolfrith, Benedict's successor, to such effect that at the early age of nineteen he was deemed worthy, for his learning and piety's sake, to be ordained deacon by St. John of Beverley, who was then bishop of Hexham, in 691 or 692. From the same prelate he received priest's orders ten years afterwards, in or about 702. The whole of his after-life he spent in study, dividing his time between the two monasteries, which were the only home he was ever to know, and in one of which (that of Jarrow) he died on May 26th, 735, and where his remains reposed until the 11th century, when they were removed to Durham, and re-interred in the same coffin as those of St. Cuthbett, where they were discovered in 1104. He was a voluminous author upon almost every subject, and as an historian his contribution to English history in the shape of his Historia Ecclesiastica is invaluable. But it is with him as a hymnist that we have to do here. I. In the list of his works, which Bede gives at the end of his Ecclesiastical History, he enumerates a Liber Hymnorum, containing hymns in “several sorts of metre or rhyme." The extant editions of this work are:— (1) Edited by Cassander, and published at Cologne, 1556; (2) in Wernsdorf's Poetae Latin Min., vol. ii. pp.239-244. II. Bede's contributions to the stores of hymnology were not large, consisting principally of 11 or at most 12 hymns; his authorship of some of these even is questioned by many good authorities. While we cannot look for the refined and mellifluous beauty of later Latin hymnists in the works of one who, like the Venerable Bede, lived in the infancy of ecclesiastical poetry; and while we must acknowledge the loss that such poetry sustains by the absence of rhyme from so many of the hymns, and the presence in some of what Dr. Neale calls such "frigid conceits" as the epanalepsis (as grammarians term it) where the first line of each stanza, as in "Hymnum canentes Martyrum," is repeated as the last; still the hymns with which we are dealing are not without their peculiar attractions. They are full of Scripture, and Bede was very fond of introducing the actual words of Scripture as part of his own composition, and often with great effect. That Bede was not free from the superstition of his time is certain, not only from his prose writings, but from such poems as his elegiac "Hymn on Virginity," written in praise and honour of Queen Etheldrida, the wife of King Ecgfrith, and inserted in his Ecclesiastical History, bk. iv., cap. xx. [Rev. Digby S. Wrangham, M.A.] -- Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


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Published hymn books and other collections

Small Church Music

Editors: The Venerable Bede Description: The SmallChurchMusic site was launched in 2006, growing out of the requests from those struggling to provide suitable music for their services and meetings. Rev. Clyde McLennan was ordained in mid 1960’s and was a pastor in many small Australian country areas, and therefore was acutely aware of this music problem. Having also been trained as a Pipe Organist, recordings on site (which are a subset of the site) are all actually played by Clyde, and also include piano and piano with organ versions. All recordings are in MP3 format. Churches all around the world use the recordings, with downloads averaging over 60,000 per month. The recordings normally have an introduction, several verses and a slowdown on the last verse. Users are encouraged to use software: Audacity ( or Song Surgeon ( (see for more information) to adjust the MP3 number of verses, tempo and pitch to suit their local needs. Copyright notice: Rev. Clyde McLennan, performer in this collection, has assigned his performer rights in this collection to Non-commercial use of these recordings is permitted. For permission to use them for any other purposes, please contact Home/Music( List SongsAlphabetically List Songsby Meter List Songs byTune Name About