“Happy are they, they that love God,” is a hymn by Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930), based on or paraphrased from “O quam juvat fratres, Deus” by Charles Coffin. Coffin published a collection of Latin hymns in 1727, most of which appeared in The Paris Breviary in 1736. Bridges was educated at Eton College in Windsor, Berkshire, and Corpus Christi College at Oxford University. George V named Bridges the poet laureate of England in 1913, which honor he held until his death in 1930. With Harry Ellis Wooldridge, Bridges edited The Yattendon Hymnal in 1899, a collection of one hundred hymns and hymn tune settings. “Happy are they” appears as No. 34 with the tune Binchester, composed by William Croft (1678-1727) – the most common setting still today.
Whose hearts have Christ confessed,
Who by his cross have found their life,
And ‘neath his yoke their rest.
2. Glad is the praise, sweet are the songs,
When they together sing;
And strong the prayers that bow the ear
Of heaven’s eternal King.
3. Christ to their homes giveth his peace,
And makes their loves his own:
4. Sad were our lot, evil this earth,
Did not its sorrows prove
The path whereby the sheep may find
The fold of Jesus’ love.
5. Then shall they know, they that love him,
How all their pain is good;
And death itself cannot unbind
Their happy brotherhood.
Meter: C. M.
Text: Charles Coffin “O quam juvat,” and Robert Bridges “Happy are they”
Tune: Binchester, by William Croft