Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Happy Home

On Sunday, thinking about those birds of the air who make nests in the branches of the mustard shrub, our parish will sing Jerusalem, My Happy Home.

It's a good old song, more than a bit sentimental, and the LBW version offers five stanzas about the "happy harbor of the saints," with its "gardens and [its] gallant walks," its flowers and fruitful trees.

But like so many old hymns, this one -- apparently both known from a manuscript and first published in 1601 as Hierusalem etc. -- has many stanzas which are not printed in most hymnals.  Oremus Hymnal offers 25, although some versions include as many as 55.  Most are fairly banal, and their customary omission is no great loss.  But others may be worth a look.

Of particular charm to us, at least, are three stanzas which describe the choir of saints:

There David stands with harp in hand
as master of the choir:
ten thousand times that man were blessed
that might this music hear.

Our Lady sings Magnificat
with tune surpassing sweet,
and all the virgins bear their part,
sitting at her feet.

There Magdalen hath left her moan,
and cheerfully doth sing
with blessèd saints, whose harmony
in every street doth ring.


Nice, right?  A bit more detail than the usual "heavenly chorus," right down to the tune being sung.  We'll think of it at Vespers.

1 comment:

PrSBlake1 said...

And did you know that in Leipzig in the 18th century the congregation did not have hymnals. Only the choir was supplied with hymnals. The congregation was expected to sing hymns from memory - all the verses! So, "Vom Himmel Hoch has something like 20 verses and the people sang them all from memory! And I can't even get my folks to sing one verse with the book very enthusiastically. Very discouraging.