Hymn of the Week: August 7, 2022
by the Rev. Brooke Myers,
“Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”
We are living in dark times. Our world seems to be one of social and political polarization, the erosion of trust in institutions, staggering wealth gap, pandemics, international tension and conflict, and, on top of all that, the alarming and accelerating pace of environmental destruction. Such a worldview permeates this Hymn of the Week. This well-known Advent hymn would be an appropriate one to sing this coming Sunday because the words reference that day’s apocalyptic reading from the Gospel of Luke.
When Laurentius Laurenti (1660-1722) wrote the text for this hymn, Europe was recovering from the decades-long trauma of the Thirty Years War. The bloodshed, famine, environmental damage, disease and economic collapse of that period were fresh in the minds of many. Some believed it was the beginning of the End Times, and hopes were high for Jesus’ Second Coming. It’s no surprise, then, that Laurenti was drawn to passages like Luke 12:35-40, in which Jesus uses a parable about a wedding feast to teach about the coming of the reign of God: the guests at a wedding eagerly await the coming of the groom and are advised to keep their lamps burning until his arrival. Laurenti’s text is one of hope and encouragement to those who see hints of Christ’s return in turbulent times: “Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear!” In spite of the darkness, “sin and toil” of this “darkened sphere,” “look now for your salvation!” “The Bridegroom is at hand!” Look to see “the day of earth’s redemption!”
The origins of the tune, Llangloffan, are obscure. It was initially published in 1872, but its roots surely go much further back. Some think it began as an English folk song which was later carried to Wales. Interestingly, the tune works equally well in both minor and major keys, a characteristic of Welsh melodies. In addition to its use for Hymn 68, Llangloffan is used for Hymn 607, “O God of every nation.”
Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear!
The evening is advancing, the darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising, and soon he will draw nigh;
up, watch in expectation; at midnight comes the cry.
See that your lamps are burning, replenish them with oil;
look now for your salvation, the end of sin and toil.
The marriage-feast is waiting, the gates wide open stand;
rise up, ye heirs of glory, the Bridegroom is at hand.
Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear;
arise, thou Sun so longed for, above this darkened sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
the day of earth’s redemption, and ever be with thee.
Listen at YouTube/rejoice,rejoice,believers or YouTube/Llangloffan