Sunday July 19, 2020
Golden Crowns Around the Glassy Sea – The Chapel’s Most Popular Hymn. As I mentioned last week, the chapel hymnal focuses on great hymns of the Victorian era, many of which are not published in modern or even 20th century hymnals. Also, the hymnal is not affiliated with any particular denomination – a perfect fit for an un-denominational chapel!
The hymn most often selected by guest ministers is Hymn # 5, Holy, Holy, Holy (Hymn tune Nicaea). It is one of nine in the Morning Song section and one of the great hymns of the 19th century. John Dykes wrote this rousing tune and Reginald Heber wrote the text. Heber, an Oxford-educated curate in England, dreamed of writing hymns for the Anglican church. At that time, hymn singing was not allowed and as much as Heber tried to gain acceptance for the practice, he was denied by the authorities. He became Bishop of Calcutta in India and died after preaching to large crowd in 1826. His wife found his hymn texts in a trunk and had them published the following year. Many decades later, someone brought the text to John Dykes, also English, educated at Cambridge and minor canon of Durham Cathedral. It is reported that Dykes was so inspired by the text that he wrote the tune in 30 minutes! Dykes wrote more than 300 hymn tunes throughout his career. Thirty-five of Dykes’s tunes are in the chapel hymnal, more than any other composer represented.
Here is a beautiful a contemporary a cappella version, all parts sung by Sam Robson, a UK singer.