Saturday, 3 February 2018

Choosing hymns for Sexagesima,
the Second Sunday before Lent

The choir stalls in Lichfield Cathedral after Evensong last week … Archbishop William Maclagan, author of the tune ‘Newington’, was Bishop of Lichfield in 1878-1891 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Tomorrow [4 February 2018] is the Second Sunday before Lent. In the past, this Sunday was known as Sexagesima, one of those odd-sounding Latin names once used in the Book of Common Prayer for the Sundays between Candlemas and Lent: Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima.

The Lectionary adapted for use in the Church of Ireland, provides two alternative sets of readings. One takes up the theme of Creation, while the second continues the Year B cycle of readings in Saint Mark’s Gospel [Hosea 2: 14-20; Psalm 103: 1-13, 22; II Corinthians 3: 1-6; Mark 2: 13-22].

We are continuing the Year B readings in Saint Mark’s Gospel at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick [9.30 a.m.] and at Morning Prayer in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Co Kerry.

Each week, I take time and care in selecting hymns that relate to the readings on a Sunday morning and that relate to the themes I hope to speak about in my sermons.

This task is complicated because, without an organist or a working organ in any of the four churches in this group of parishes, I am also limited by the recorded hymns and music that are available in each church.

I hope to speak tomorrow morning about how, despite our own feelings of rejection and unworthiness, God always seeks to draw us into a new and renewed relationship that is comparable to the loving and covenantal relationship shared and experienced in a good marriage.

Thee hymns I have chosen for tomorrow morning include two hymns with connections with Lichfield and whose authors also have associations with Ireland.

Processional: 660, Thine for ever! God of love. This hymn was written by Mary Fawler Maude, daughter of George Henry Hooper, of Stanmore, Middlesex, and the wide of Canon Joseph Maude, Vicar of Chirk, near Ruabon, a canon of St Asaph’s Cathedral in Wales, and later Vicar of Saint Thomas, Newport on the Isle of Wight.

Her hymns were published in her Twelve Letters on Confirmation (1848), and Memorials of Past Years (1852). Her best-known hymn, is ‘Thine for ever, God of love,’ written in 1847 for a Sunday School class in Newport she was preparing for Confirmation.

The tune for this hymn, ‘Newington,’ was written by William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910), a former Bishop of Lichfield and former Archbishop of York.

In early life, Maclagan spent five years in the Indian army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant. He then studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge (BA 1856, MA 1860). After ordination, he was a curate and rector in a number of parishes, including Saint Mary’s, Newington (1869-1875), which gives its name to this tune, before becoming Bishop of Lichfield (1878-1891).

While he was Bishop of Lichfield he married the Hon Augusta Barrington (1836-1915), the daughter of an Irish peer, William Keppel Barrington (1793-1867), 6th Viscount Barrington, and a direct descendant of the theologian and barrister John Shute Barrington (1678-1734), who was given the titles of Baron Barrington of Newcastle, Co Limerick, and Viscount Barrington of Ardglass, Co Down, in 1720.

As Archbishop of York (1891-1909), Maclagan crowned Queen Alexandra at the coronation of Edward VII. He retired in 1909 and died in 1910.

The grave of Dean Lancelot Addison at the west end of Lichfield Cathedral … his son Joseph Addison wrote the hymn ‘When all thy mercies, O my God’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Gradual: 374, When all thy mercies, O my God: This hymn was written by Joseph Addison (1672-1719), whose father, Lancelot Addison, was Dean of Lichfield. Addison too had Irish connections: he was successively a Commissioner of Appeals, an Under Secretary of State, Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Chief Secretary for Ireland.

Addison is most widely known for his contributions to the Spectator, the Toiler, the Guardian, and the Freeholder, and he contributed many of his hymns to the Spectator. However, his claims to the authorship of some hymns is sometimes questioned.

This morning’s hymn was first published in the Spectator on 9 August 1712, as the conclusion of an essay on ‘Gratitude.’ It has also been ascribed to the Revd Richard Richmond, Rector of Walton-on-the-Ribble, Lancashire.

Addison never intended this poem to become a hymn, but it was included in a collection of hymns by John Wesley in 1737. The tune ‘Contemplation’ is by Canon Fred¬er¬ick A Gore-Ou¬se¬ley (1825-1889), Professor of Music at Oxford University, Precentor of Hereford Cathedral and friend of the composer John Stainer.

Offertory: 418, Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face: This hymn is by the Revd Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). He was ordained in 1837 for Kelso, and in 1843, he joined the Free Church of Scotland. His reputation as a religious writer was first gained with his Kelso Tracts. His three series of Hymns of Faith and Hope went through several editions.

The setting is Song 24 by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), one of the leading composers in Tudor and Jacobean England.

Post-Communion: 218, And can it be that I should gain: this is one of the best-known and most popular of the many hymns by the Revd Charles Wesley.

The tune ‘Sagina’ by Thomas Campbell was first published in 1825, almost 90 years after Wesley wrote this hymn. The Latin word sagina means nourishment, Sagina was used as spring fodder for fattening lambs in the fields around Rome, which make this tune appropriate both for this time of year and as a Post-Communion hymn.

The castle at Newcastle West, Co Limerick … the Hon Augusta Maclagan was descended from the Barrington family who took one of their titles from Newcastle West (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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