Hymn of the Week: November 17
by the Rev. Brooke Myers
14 November 2021 / Proper 28 B
Hymn 571: All who love and serve your city, CHARLESTOWN
Many Episcopal hymns refer to the heavenly city of God and the earthly city of Jerusalem, but this text is one of only two in our Hymnal with a contemporary urban focus. The English-born musician Rev. Dr. Erik Routley participated in a hymn workshop in Scotland in 1966. He was assigned to write a tune for a text about social justice. A fellow participant in an adjoining room to Routley’s was writing a text about Christian responsibility and, as he wrote, hummed loudly. This so distracted Routley that he abandoned his musical assignment and wrote a text, his first, instead. It reflects Routley’s dismay over the urban riots which were sweeping across the United States at that time.
The music was derived from an American folk tune, and was first published in 1799 by a musician living in Charleston, SC, hence the tune’s name. It was arranged and harmonized over the years by several composers before being included in an Episcopal hymnal supplement in 1976.