21 September 2016

Hymns and readings to celebrate
the feastday of Saint Matthew

The Triptych of Saint Matthew by Andrea di Cione (1343-1368), also known as Orcagna, in the Uffizi, Florence

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Feast of Saint Matthew the Evangelist [21 September 2016]. I am presiding at the Community Eucharist in the Chapel of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute this afternoon, and the preacher is the Revd Rebecca Guildea, a Year III student on the MTh programme who was ordained deacon in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last Sunday [18 September 2016] to serve in Zion parish, Rathgar.

The readings in the Revised Common Lectionary for today’s Eucharist are: Proverbs 3: 13-18; Psalm 119: 65-72; II Corinthians 4: 1-6; and Matthew 9: 9-13.

I have prepared the following notes for this evening’s service sheet:

A note on this evening’s hymns:

Processional Hymn: ‘In the name of Christ we gather’ (Thanks and Praise, 67) is by Shirley Erena Murray, a New Zealand hymn lyrics writer. The composer Colin Gibson says her hymns are ‘distinguished by their inclusive language … their bold appropriation of secular terms and their original poetic imagery.’ The tune ‘Kenilworth Place’ is by John Crothers, who also wrote the tune ‘Braemor Park.’

Gloria: ‘Glory in the highest to the God of heaven’ (Church Hymnal, 693), was written in 1976 by the Revd Christopher Idle, who has written over 300 hymns. He is now retired and is an Honorary Assistant Minister at Holy Trinity, Bromley Common. This hymn is a reminder of the Communion of Saints gathered around the Lamb on the throne. The tune ‘Camberwell’ was written in 1960 by the Revd John Michael Brierley while he was an ordinand at Lichfield Theological College and to honour the Revd Geoffrey Beaumont, then Vicar of Camberwell and remembered for composing the Twentieth Century Folk Mass while he was the chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Gradual: ‘For all your saints in glory’ (Church Hymnal, 460), was written by Bishop Edward Darling, general editor of the Church Hymnal (5th edition). The editorial committee wanted a composite hymn for saints’ days, with a common opening and closing stanza, and a choice of an intervening stanza. The tune ‘The Star’ (An Réalt) is an Irish traditional melody, arranged by Professor George Hewson (1881-1972), organist of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Offertory: ‘Hear from all nations, all tongues, and all peoples’ (Church Hymnal, 466), also by Christopher Idle, is a reminder of the Communion of Saints gathered around the Lamb on the throne. The tune, O quanta qualia, is an adaptation of a melody from François de la Feillée’s Méthode du Plainchant (1808). The tune takes its name from an earlier hymn on the same theme by the French mediaeval scholar Peter Abelard (1079-1142).

Communion Hymn: As we receive Holy Communion, we sing ‘Jesus, remember me’ (Church Hymnal, 617), by Jacques Berthier (1923-1994) and the Taizé Community. Berthier, in collaboration with Father Robert Giscard and Father Joseph Gelineau, developed the ‘songs of Taizé’ genre. He composed 284 songs and accompaniments for Taizé.

Post Communion Hymn: ‘For all the saints, who from their labours rest’ (Church Hymnal, 459) was written by Bishop William Walsham How (1823-1897). Bishop How, known as ‘the poor man’s bishop,’ was the first Bishop of Wakefield, and died in Leenane, Co Mayo, in 1897. The original form had 11 verses, although three are omitted from most versions – the verses extolling ‘the glorious company of the Apostles,’ ‘the godly fellowship of the prophets’ and ‘the noble army of martyrs’ were inspired by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer version of Te Deum. The tune ‘Sine Nomine’ (‘Without Name’) was written for this hymn by Ralph Vaughan Williams while he was editing the English Hymnal (1906).

Saint Matthew represented in a group of the Four Evangelists on columns at the porch in University Church, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)


O almighty God,
whose blessed Son called Matthew the tax-collector
to be an apostle and evangelist:
Give us grace to forsake the selfish pursuit of gain
and the possessive love of riches;
that we may follow in the way of your Son Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer:

God of mercy and compassion,
we have shared the joy of salvation
that Matthew knew when Jesus called him.
Renew our calling to proclaim the one
who came not to call the righteous but sinners to salvation,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Matthew the Evangelist represented in a carving on the choir stalls in the Church of Saint Michael and All Angels, Penkridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)