Saturday, June 15, 2013

Common Meter Extended hymns

In 1982 I wrote a hymn (A Sinner's Meditation on Christ's Death) and tune (Ogilvie), which were published under the title "Sweet Thought" in the 1992 Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition. The words, slightly revised, were printed in 2009 in A Sheaf of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs.

1. How sweet to think He died for me,
Upon the cruel tree;
It brings me pain and agony,
And yet it brings me ecstacy--
Just think, He died for me.
2. A wretched sinner, vile am I,
For whom the Lord did die;
He sent His own begotten Son,
Redemption paid and vict'ry won--
Just think, He died for you.

I recently wrote another tune that "takes off" from Ogilvie, has much the same run, but is in minor rather than major. This hymn is in a not so common meter -- (Myron Sauder calls it Common Meter Extended or C.M.E. in his Handbook for Spiritual Hymns). I thought I might write a hymn for this new tune, and did write one stanza. But I also decided to look around and see what other hymns might follow this metrical pattern. I found several, the first stanzas of which I list below. Ultimately, I chose William Bingham Tappan's hymn "There is an hour of peaceful rest."

Below are Tappan's hymn, plus the first stanzas of 8 other hymns that I found written in Common Meter Extended. I do not recommend all of them, but include them as examples of hymns written in, or Common Meter Extended. Do you readers know of others?

1. There is an hour of peaceful rest
To mourning wand'rers giv'n;
There is a joy for souls distrest,
A balm for ev'ry wounded breast:
'Tis found above--in heav'n.
2. There is a home for weary souls,
By sin and sorrow driv'n
When tossed on life's tempestuous shoals,
When storms arise and ocean rolls,
And all is drear--but heav'n.
3. There faith lifts up the tearless eye,
To brighter prospects giv'n,
And views the tempest passing by,
The evening shadows quickly fly,
And all serene--in heav'n.
4. There fragrant flow'rs immortal bloom,
And joys supreme are giv'n;
There rays divine disperse the gloom;
Beyond the confines of the tomb
Appears the dawn of heav'n. 
Words: William Bingham Tappan, 1818

“Be not afraid, ’tis I, ’tis I,
Though the storm rages wild;
In thy sore need I’m passing by,
Off’ring to help thee, hear thy cry—
Be of good cheer, My child.”
Words: Barney E. Warren, pub. 1911

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.
Words: John Greenleaf Whittier, 1872

Eternal Light! Eternal Light!
How pure the soul must be
When, placed within Thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live and look on Thee.
Words: Thomas Binney ca. 1826 (This hymn sometimes appears with the first line "O Thou Who art enrobed in Light")

Give to me, Lord, a thankful heart 
And a discerning mind;
Give, as I play the Christian's part, 
The strength to finish what I start
And act on what I find. 
Words: Thomas Caryl Micklem 1973

I cannot breathe enough of Thee,
O gentle breeze of love;
More fragrant than the myrtle tree
The Henna-flower is to me,
The Balm of Heaven above.
Words: W. Spencer Walton, pub. 1923

O God of hope, your prophets spoke 
of days when war would cease: 
when taught to see each person’s worth,
and faithful stewards of the earth, 
we all would live in peace.
Words: Basil Ernest Bridge

The hush of midnight here below,
the shining stars above,
a night of wonder long ago
when in the stable lantern's glow 
is born God's gift of love.
Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith, 2000

The Saviour gently calls you now 
In accents soft and clear; 
His hand outstretched in tender love 
Will guide you to His home above– 
O come while He is near.
Words: Ken Paginton, 1981

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