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Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ
Repeat the sounding joy. Dr. Edward Hodges (1796-1867) wrote an excellent psalm-tune to it which is still in occasional use, but the music united to the hymn in the popular heart is “Antioch,” an adaptation from Handel's Messiah. This companionship holds unbroken from hymnal to hymnal and has done so for sixty or seventy years; and, in spite of its fugue, the tune-apparently by some magic of its owncontrives to enlist the entire voice of a congregation, the bass falling in on the third beat as if by intuition. The truth is, the tune has become the habit of the hymn, and to the thousands who have it by heart, as they do in every village where there is a singing school, “Antioch” is “Joy to the World," and “Joy to the World” is “Antioch.”
“HARK! WHAT MEAN THOSE HOLY VOICES ?
This fine hymn, so many years appearing with the simple sign “Cawood” or “ J. Cawood” printed under it, still holds its place by universal welcome.
Hark! what mean those holy voices
Sweetly sounding through the skies?
Heavenly hallelujahs rise.
Hear them tell the wondrous story,
Hear them chant in hymns of joy,
Glory in the highest, glory,
Glory be to God on high! The Rev. John Cawood, a farmer's son, was born at Matlock,Derbyshire, Eng., March 18, 1775, graduated at Oxford, 1801, and was appointed perpetual curate of St. Anne's in Bendly, Worcestershire. Died Nov. 7,1852. He is said to have written seventeen hymns, but was too modest to publish any.
Dr. Dykes “Oswald,” and Henry Smart's “Bethany” are worthy expressions of the feeling in Cawood's hymn. In America, Mason's “Amaland,” with fugue in the second and third lines, has long been a favorite.
"WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS.”
This was written by Nahum Tate (1652–1715), and after two hundred years the church remembers and sings the song. Six generations have grown up with their childhood memory of its pictorial verses illustrating St. Luke's Christmas story,
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
And glory shone around.
Had seized their troubled mind,
To you and all mankind.”
Modern hymnals have substituted “Christmas” and other more or less spirited tunes for Read's “Sherburne," which was the first musical translation of the hymn to American ears. But, to show the traditional hold that the New England fugue melody maintains on the people, many collections print it as alternate tune. Some modifications have been made in it, but its survival is a tribute to its real merit.
Daniel Read, the creator of “Sherburne," “Windham,” “Russia,” “Stafford," "Lisbon," and many other tunes characteristic of a bygone school of psalmody, was born in Rehoboth, Mass., Nov. 2, 1757. He published The American Singing Book, 1785, Columbian Harmony, 1793, and several other collections. Died in New Haven, Ct., 1836.
“IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR.”
Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears, author of this beautiful hymn-poem, was born at Sandisfield, Berkshire Co., Mass., April 6, 1810, and educated at Union College and Harvard University. He became pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Mass., 1838. Died in the adjoining town of Weston, Jan. 14, 1876. The hymn first appeared in the Christian Register in 1857.
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold.
From Heaven's all-gracious King."
To hear the angels sing.
With peaceful wings unfurled
O'er all the weary world.
They bend on hovering wing,
The blessed angels sing.
No more sympathetic music has been written to these lines than “Carol,” the tune composed by Richard Storrs Willis, a brother of Nathaniel Parker Willis the poet, and son of Deacon Nathaniel Willis, the founder of the Youth's Companion. He was born Feb. 10, 1819, graduated at Yale in 1841, and followed literature as a profession. He was also a musician and composer. For many years he edited the N. Y. Musical World, and, besides contributing frequently to current literature, published Church Chorals and Choir Studies, Our Church Music and several other volumes on musical subjects. Died in Detroit, May 7, 1900.
The much-loved and constantly used advent psalm of Mr. Sears,
Calm on the listening ear of night
Come heaven's melodious strains
Her silver-mantled plains, —was set to music by John Edgar Gould, and the smooth choral with its sweet chords is a remarkable example of blended voice and verse.
“O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM!”
Phillips Brooks, the eloquent bishop of Massachusetts, loved to write simple and tender poems for the children of his church and diocese. They all reveal his loving heart and the beauty of his consecrated imagination. This one, the best of his Christmas Songs, was slow in coming to public notice, but finally found its place in hymn-tune collections.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
The silent stars go by;
The everlasting light;
Are met in thee tonight.
And gathered all above,
Their watch of wond’ring love.
Proclaim the holy birth!
And peace to men on earth.