11-1-11 Hymns for All Saints Day 11-1-11 “For all the Saints who from their Labors Rest”

Perhaps because it is the Ancient Celtic New Year’s Day (Samhain), perhaps because it celebrates the memory of all the real men and women throughout history who found their lives transformed by the Holy Spirit, All Saints Day has always been my favorite Holiday. Perhaps because All Saints finds itself sandwiched between Halloween and the Day of the Dead (“All Souls Day”), it is always the day that I always celebrate in my heart even though almost nobody else pays any attention.  

 “For All the Saints,” Hymn 287

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

 For All the Saints, who from their labors rest, who Thee by Faith before the World confessed, all hearts are brave again and arms are strong!The Lion of Saint Mark---the Evangelist
The Voice of Him that Cryeth in the Wilderness, “Prepare ye the Way of the Lord”

 For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Music: Ralph Vaughn Williams, (1872-1958)

Words: William Walsham How (1823-1897)

In all the Christian Year, for me there is no better day than All Saints, no greater celebration of the Church being the way I like it: the Church Militant.    No namby-pamby wimpy Church hymn this one.  As an inspirational, rousing anthem urging us to get up and fight for Christ, “For all the Saints” goes together nicely with “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (Hymn 687) and “Faith of Our Fathers” (Hymn 558).  As a hymn urging us to action, especially appropriate for the Fall Harvest Season, “For All the Saints” also makes a good pair with “Come Labor On” (Hymn 541):

Come, labor on!
Who dares stand idle, on the harvest plain
While all around him waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
Go work today.”

Come, labor on!
Claim the high calling angels cannot share—
To young and old the Gospel gladness bear;
Redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.

Come, labor on!
The enemy is watching night and day,
To sow the tares, to snatch the seed away;
While we in sleep our duty have forgot, He slumbered not.

Come, labor on!
Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here:
By feeblest agents may our God fulfill
His righteous will.

Come, labor on!
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
Till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,
And a glad sound comes with the setting sun,
“Well done, well done!”

Come, labor on!
The toil is pleasant, the reward is sure;
Blessèd are those who to the end endure;
How full their joy, how deep their rest shall be,
O Lord, with Thee!

Words: Jane Laurie Borthwick (1813-1897)

Music: Thomas Tertius Noble (1867-1953)

“Ora Labora” for some reason, in my mind, in turn pairs musically with “All Glory Laud and Honor”.  The only one of this set that totally predates the 19th Century Completely… in that the words were written over a thousand years ago by Theodulph of Orleans, who died in the NINTH Century (ca. 821 A.D.).   One version music to this hymn (154 in the 1982 Hymnal) was written in the 16th Century by Melchior Teschner, 1584-1635) and another (Hymn 155) was a “plainsong” recorded from the Einsiedeln MS and St. Gall (Switzerland) MS in the 10th century.

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