Hymn of the Week: July 25
by Robert Lehman, Organist and Choirmaster
The Episcopal Church of St. Michael & St. George, Clayton
Proper 12B – July 25, 2021
Hymn 304: I come with joy to meet my Lord
Words: Brian A. Wren (b. 1936), alt.
Music: Land of Rest; American Folk Melody; adapt. and harm. Annabel Morris Buchanan (1889-1983)
Words: Copyright © 1971 by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188 SKU: 95155
Music: Copyright © 1938 by J. Fischer & Bro., a division of Belwin-Mills Publishing Corp. SKU: 89816
One of the wonderful newer hymns that we sing regularly is “I come with joy to meet my Lord,” written by The Rev. Brian Wren. As hymn writer, theologian, and activist for world development, Wren is one of the major forces in contemporary hymnody and his hymns are widely used throughout the English-speaking world.
Written for his own congregation as a summation of a series of sermons on the meaning of Holy Communion and building on the theme of community, this hymn addresses the meaning of Holy Communion. Note the singular “I” at the beginning of the hymn which gives way to the plural “We” as the hymn progresses, thus building solidly on the foundation of the Christian understanding of community. It was the writer’s intention to instruct his congregation on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but to do it in a way that would lead the worshipper from the singular, individualistic approach to Communion to the essential understanding of Eucharist as a corporate act. He hoped to accomplish this in a simple, yet stealthy way.
The tune Land of Rest has a long and interesting history. In the great tradition of the many beautiful American folk hymns to be found in our hymnal, this tune’s true origin is unknown though its roots seem to be in southwestern Pennsylvania. It seems to have first appeared in its present form in 1836 as a re-working of a tune found in a collection called The Christian Harp (Pittsburgh, 1832), the work of Methodist cleric Samuel Wakefield. The tune was called Longing for Home and was linked to the text “O land of rest, for thee I sigh!” One can easily see how the name now in common use, Land of Rest, came to be. These words are sung in some traditions to the American folk melody titled Dove of Peace which is very similar to Land of Rest in its melodic contours.
This hymn can be heard to the above mentioned tunes at:
Land of Rest:
Dove of Peace: