Tuesday, June 22, 2010

An Uplifting Hymn

For Peter, Patrick and Mary:

Samuel J. Stone (1839-1900) wrote the following well-known hymn, which interestingly enough formed part of his Lyra Fidelium; Twelve Hymns of the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed (1866).   

Given this fact, "The Church's One Foundation" is pretty obviously the hymn meant to correspond to the 9th article of the Apostles' Creed – "[I believe in] the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints" ([Credo insanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem) – where "communion of saints" can be understood in two ways, since sanctorum in the Latin can mean both "holy people" and "holy things":
  1. as referring to the fellowship we have with each other here and throughout the earth, and with the saints above, and with the faithful departed, "all the whole Church", the Body of Christ; 
  2. and as our communion in Holy Things, that is, in the Holy Gifts of the Eucharist, "which makes the Church" as the saying is, since in receiving the Body we are knit together as Christ's Body.
The many Scriptural references in the hymn I will not pick out at this time; I will note the seldom-sung 3rd stanza (marked with asterisks) of the original, which in many ways even more starkly insists on the message of the 4th.  So, too, what is normally sung as the last stanza is in reality but the first half of the 6th joined to the first half of the 7th – again, I've marked the lines usually omitted with asterisks, and put a mark of juncture between the two stanzas.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From Heav’n He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

*The Church shall never perish!
*Her dear Lord to defend,
*To guide, sustain, and cherish,
*Is with her to the end:
*Though there be those who hate her,
*And false sons in her pale,
*Against both foe or traitor
*She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
*With all her sons and daughters
*Who, by the Master’s hand
*Led through the deathly waters,
*Repose in Eden land.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
*There, past the border mountains,
*Where in sweet vales the Bride
*With Thee by living fountains
*Forever shall abide!

(The tune for this is of course "Aurelia" (76.76.D), by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.)

No comments: