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Sunday’s Songs for November

Sunday's Songs for November 2023

By William Schmid, BA, Mdiv, STM

November is a busy month with so many celebrations, religiously speaking. The first of the month is designated as All Saints Day, a time to remember the Saints of our lives from last year to the present. So, I have chosen a hymn for the month as a repeat from November’s Sunday’s Songs from 2013. That must have been when I began as the author of Sunday’s Songs. The hymn chosen is number 422 in our hymnal: FOR ALL THE SAINTS. Growing up in the United Brethren Church in North York and having been Ordained an Elder in that denomination in 1965, I’d never heard this hymn until I was accepted into the Central Pennsylvania Synod of the Lutheran Church in America. It was at that meeting of the Synod that this hymn was sung by the “congregation” in a memorial service of official persons of the Synod who passed into the Church Triumphant since the previous meeting. you can imagine how greatly this hymn was sung that day, and every day afterward that I was a participant.

So, the month begins with All Saints (November 1st). Luther’s birthday was November 10th. Christ the King Sunday is the finality of the Trinity Season and the First Sunday of Advent this year is December 3rd. December 2nd is a popular birthday of many Advent members, mine included!

The text of this hymn was written by William W. How, born in Shrewsbury, England on December 13, 1823 and is considered to be one of the last outstanding English hymnists of the 18th century. Out of 60+ hymns written by him, 25 are still in use today. He also served as an Anglican Bishop for the eastern section of London, the slum district of that city. He was considered “the poor man’s bishop”. Instead of traveling in a special coach he always used public transportation and lived and worked with his people!

The hymn tune, Sine Nomine, was composed by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958). His birthplace was Down Ampney, Gloucesershire, where his father, The Reverend Author Vaughn Williams was the Vicar. He started with piano lessons at age 6, the violin at age 7, and at age 14 attended Charthouse School, which was one of the few schools of his time that encouraged musical education. Many of his compositions came from folk songs and carols that were becoming extinct because of oral tradition. Ralph Vaughn Williams is a central figure in British music because of his long career as teacher, lecturer, and friend to so many younger composers and conductors.

For All the Saints - ELW 422

1 For all the saints who from their labors rest,

who thee by faith before the world confessed,

thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 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!

3 Oh, blest communion, fellowship divine,

we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

yet all are one in thee, for all are thing.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

4 And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,

steals on the ear the distant triumph son,

and hearts are brave again and arms are strong.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

5 The golden evening brightens in the west;

soon, soon to faithful servants cometh rest;

sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

6 But then there breaks a yet more glorious day:

the saints triumphant rise in bright array;

the King of glory passes on his way.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

7 From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,

through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,

singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:

Alleluia! Alleluia!