by Giles Brightwell This coming Sunday is The Second Sunday after Easter. The hymns reflect the themes included in the readings: discipleship and God and Jesus as shepherd of the sheep.
The first hymn, ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ to the tune CRIMOND, is a well-known metrical version of Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) from the Scottish Psalter of 1650. The tune was written by Jessie Seymour Irvine (1836-1887). Irvine was the daughter of a Scottish minister who served at Crimond in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. The hymn was included in our own Mr. Moseley’s supplement to The Hymnal 1940, and, as a result, should be known to a portion of our congregation.
The words of the Sermon Hymn, ‘Thy hand O God has guided thy flock from age to age’, (1889), to the tune THORNBURY were written by the Victorian scholar and Anglican divine, Edward Hayes Plumptre, DD. Better-known in the USA as the author of the hymn ‘Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old’ (1864), which we sing regularly at St. Thomas’, he was professor of both pastoral theology and biblical exegesis at King’s College in the University of London. Later on, he was also dean of Queen’s College, Oxford, and finally, dean of Wells Cathedral in Somerset. Plumptre was a polymath whose academic interests embraced a wide range of disciplines including classics, history, divinity, biblical criticism, biography, and poetry (https://hymnary.org/person/Plumptre_EH).
The tune THORNBURY, named after the Gloucestershire village, was written by Basil Harwood (1859-1949). Harwood had been born into a Quaker family of aristocrats. He went up to Oxford for two years to study classics and modern history, then a relatively new subject at the university. He left without completing his degree to study at the Leipzig Conservatoire with Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) and Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902).
In 1883, Harwood was appointed organist of the Anglo-Catholic shrine church of St. Barnabas, Pimlico in London, which had been the focus of the anti-popery riots in June, 1850. His success as a composer with his organ sonata in C sharp minor earned him his next move to Ely Cathedral, where he was organist from 1887. From there, he returned to Oxford in 1892 to become organist at Christ Church Cathedral and precentor of the newly-founded Keble College (1870). During his time in Oxford, he co-founded and conducted the Oxford Bach Choir, earning him the degree of doctor of music (DMus) honoris causa. He was musical editor of the Oxford Hymn Book and an examiner for music degrees at the university. Harwood retired early at the age of 48 (1907) inheriting the family estate of Woodhouse in Gloucestershire from his father.
A version of each hymn may be found here for those who might wish to listen to them and sing along before Sunday:
CRIMOND sung by the choir of Westminster Abbey (Martin Neary, director Martin Baker, organ)
THORNBURY sung by the choir of Trinity College, University of Melbourne, Australia