Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken

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Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
John Newton.jpg
John Newton
GenreHymn
Written1779
TextJohn Newton
Languageen
Based onPsalm 87:3
Meter8.7.8.7 D
Melody"Austrian Hymn" by Franz Josef Haydn

"Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken", also called "Zion, or the City of God",[1] is an 18th-century English hymn written by John Newton, who also wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace". The hymn has often been set to the music of Joseph Haydn's "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (known as "Austria" in English-speaking circles)[i] or Arthur Sullivan's "Lux Eoi".[2][3] In recent decades a third tune, Abbot's Leigh, has risen to prominence. This was written for this text by The Reverend Cyril Vincent Taylor in 1942 while he was a producer of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC and stationed at the village of Abbots Leigh.

Joseph Haydn

History[edit]

The hymn was written by Newton after he had asked for assistance from his friend and neighbour, classical writer William Cowper, while he was the Church of England parish priest of Olney Church.[2] With Cowper's assistance, Newton was able to publish the Olney Hymns Hymnal, which included "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken", in 1779.[4] The hymn is based upon Psalm 87:3 and Isaiah 33:20–21.[2] "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" is considered to be Newton's best composition and was the only joyful hymn in the publication.[2] The hymn has five verses of eight lines each.[1]

The hymn was a favourite of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. He is noted to have once awakened his soldiers in 1862 while they were in the Shenandoah Valley by singing "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" out of tune.[5]

Tune[edit]

Because of the practice of singing the hymn to a tune used for other purposes it has sometimes elicited unusual reactions. During the Second World War in an Oflag prisoner of war camp, a Protestant service was interrupted during the singing of "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" by the camp guards singing Sei gesegnet ohne Ende, because the hymn was set to the same tune.[6] The same Haydn melody is employed in the German national anthem formerly known, popularly, as Deutschland über alles — properly titled Das Lied der Deutschen or the Deutschlandlied, the third verse of which is the national anthem of present-day Germany. For some people, using this particular tune for the hymn (often named in various hymnals as "Austria") is often controversial as, despite the fact that it dates back to the 18th century, it raises reminders of Nazi Germany.[7] Cyril Vincent Taylor's Abbot's Leigh tune was written in response to complaints received by the BBC during the war.[8][9]

Below, a setting of the hymn as it appears in the 1920 The Army and Navy Hymnal:[ii]


\version "2.16.2" 
\header { tagline = ##f }
\score { << << \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"oboe"} { \key f \major \time 4/4 \relative c' {
  \repeat unfold 2 { <f c>4. <g c,>8 <a f>4 <g e> | 
  <bes g> <a f> << { g8 [ e ] } \\ { e4 } >> <f c>4 | 
  <d' f,> <c f,> <bes g> <a f> |
  <g d> << { a8 [ f ] } \\ { d8 [ f ] } >> <c' e,>2  \break }
  <g e>4 <a f> <g e>8 <e c> << { c4 } \\ { c4 } >> |
  <bes' g>4 <a f> <g e>8 <e c> << { c4 } \\ { c4 } >> |
  <c c'>4 << { bes'4 } \\ { d,8 e } >> <a f>4. <a f>8 |
  <b f>4. <b f>8 <c e,>2 |
  <f f,>4. <e f,>8 <d f,>4 <c f,> |
  <d f,>4. <c f,>8 << { c8 [ bes ] } \\ { g4 } >> <a f>4 |
  <g e> << { a8 [ bes ] c [ d ] bes [ g ] } \\ { e4 f d } >> |
  <f c>4 << { a8 g } \\ { e4 } >> <f c>2 \bar "|." } }
\new Lyrics \lyricmode {
\set stanza = #"1."
Glo4. -- rious8 things4 of thee are spo -- ken,
Zi -- on, cit -- y of our God;2
He,4. whose8 word4 can -- not be bro -- ken,
Form'd thee for his own a -- bode;2
On4 the Rock of A -- ges found -- ed, 
What can shake4. thy8 sure4. re8 -- pose?2
With4. sal8 -- va4 -- tion's walls4. sur8 -- round4 -- ed,
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.2
}
\new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"oboe"} { \clef bass \key f \major \relative c {
  \repeat unfold 2 { <f a>4. <f bes>8 <f c'>4 <c c'> |
  <e c'> <f c'> <c bes'> <f a> |
  << { bes4 } \\ { bes4} >> <a c>4 <e c'> <f c'> |
  <bes, d'> <b d'> <c c'>2 }
  <c c'>4 <c c'> <c c'> <c c'> |
  <e c'> <f c'> <c c'> <c e>8 <b g'> |
  <a a'>4 << { g'4 } \\ { bes, 8 a } >> <d f>4. <d f>8 |
  << { g4. } \\ { g4. } >> <g, g'>8 <c g'>2 |
  <a' c>4. <a c>8 << { bes4 } \\ { bes4 } >> <f a>4 |
  << { bes4. } \\ { bes4. } >> <a c>8 <e c'>4 <f c'> |
  <c c'> <bes c'> << { c'8 [ f, ] g [ bes ] } \\ { a,4 bes } >> |
  <c a'>4 <c bes'> <f a>2 } } 
  >> >>
\layout { indent = #0 }
\midi { \tempo 4 = 72 } }

Usage[edit]

The hymn is used by a wide range of Christian denominations, including Catholics.[10] Words of the hymn may be changed depending on, for example, whether the congregation is Calvinist or Lutheran. Presbyterians often sing only three verses of the hymn.[1] It is also used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[11]

John Rogers Thomas also used the words for one of his sacred songs[12] from Hymns of the Church.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The hymns "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" and '"Deutschlandlied" have repeated bars. These are not played in "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken".
  2. ^ The original version of the tune, the German anthem and other hymnbooks show a two beat anacrusis starting the tune. The first bar lines therefore fall on "things", "spoken", "city" and "God".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Marshall, Madeleine Forell (1995). Common Hymnsense. GIA Publications. pp. 89–93. ISBN 0-94105069-6.
  2. ^ a b c d Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1985). 101 More Hymn Stories. 2. Kregel Publications. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-82549328-5.
  3. ^ Methodist Conference (1933). "Hymn 706". The Methodist Hymn-Book with Tunes (1964, 34th ed.). London: Novello & Co.
  4. ^ "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken". Hymn time. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  5. ^ Petersen, William J. (2014). The Complete Book of Hymns. Tyndale House Publishers. p. 270. ISBN 1-41433140-1.
  6. ^ Snape, Michael Francis (2008). The Royal Army Chaplains' Department, 1796-1953: Clergy Under Fire. Boydell Press. p. 318. ISBN 1-84383346-8.
  7. ^ Huber, Jane Parker (1987). A Singing Faith. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-66424055-0.
  8. ^ "Abbot's Leigh". Hymnary. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Composer: Cyril Vincent Taylor". Hymns Without Words. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Hymns in the Fourth Edition of the St. Michael Hymnal" (PDF). St. Boniface Parish in Lafayette, Indiana, USA. 2011-06-28. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  11. ^ "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken". LDS Church. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  12. ^ "Glorious things of thee are spoken". LoC. 1870. Retrieved July 2, 2016.

External links[edit]