10 October 2010
Today’s Gospel is one of those wonderful stories that lifts us up and fills our spirits with joy and praise. Why would we not rejoice when we experience a blessing as great as a leper’s healing! Many are the times, however, when we forget to thank for a day’s experience – a kindness shared, a friendship restored, a sickness abated or a gift unexpected.
Christians look for ways to sing and shout their thanks, and an attuned church musician makes this possible. Today’s hymnody will send us out rejoicing.
The Introit hymn, ‘Praise my soul, the King of heaven’, is one of Henry Francis Lyte’s (1795–1847) finest. Based on the themes of Psalm 103, Lyte sings about what God has made us (‘ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven’) and invites the angels to join the chorus. A single priest in Haworth at roughly the time that Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre in the same village, he ultimately contracted tuberculosis and died in Nice, France, where he had gone to seek a cure. He is also the writer of ‘Abide with Me’ and ‘Jesus, I my cross have taken’.
The hymn tune, ‘Lauda anima’, was written for this text in 1869 by John Goss and is often regarded as one of the finest tunes of the Victorian era.
The post-communion hymn, ‘God of mercy, God of grace’, was also written by Henry Lyte, who based it on Psalm 67. The hymn tune, ‘Ratisbon’, was written by Johann Gottlob Werner (1777–1822), who served as organist in a number of towns in Saxony.