Lent & Advent

Advent 2021: A Season Of Healing And Hope – December 7

Carolyn Matthews

December 7, 2021

Songs of Advent

The Great Forerunner of the Morn

(The composer of this hymn, Bede (b. circa 672-673; d. May 26, 735), also known as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede, was an English monk at Northumbrian monastery at Monkwearmouth (now Jarrow). Sent to the monastery at the age of seven, he became deacon very early on, and then a priest at the age of thirty. An author and scholar, he is particularly known for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which gained him the title “Father of English History.” He also wrote many scientific and theological works, as well as poetry and music. Bede is the only native of Great Britain to have ever been made a Doctor of the Church. He died on Ascension Day, May 26, 735, and was buried in Durham Cathedral. Laura de Jong.

The translator, John M. Neale, was born into an evangelical home, in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of a scholarly tem­perament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackville College in East Grinstead, a retirement home for poor men. There he served the men faithfully and expanded Sackville’s ministry to indigent women and orphans. He also founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret, which became one of the finest English training orders for nurses. Bert Polman)

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

John 1:6-8

The Great Forerunner of the Morn

The great forerunner of the morn,
The herald of the Word, is born;
And faithful hearts shall never fail
With thanks and praise his light to hail.

With heav’nly message Gabriel came,
That John should be that herald’s name,
And with prophetic utt’rance told
His actions great and manifold.

Though not yet born, John gave aright
His witness to the coming Light;
And Christ, the Sun of all the earth,
Fulfilled that witness at his birth.

John’s mighty deeds exalt his fame
To greater than a prophet’s name;
Of woman born shall never be
A greater prophet than was he.

(With Long Meter (LM - tunes that it has been set to include:

  • THE TRUTH FROM ABOVE – a traditional carol from Herefordshire, harmonised by Ralph Vaughan Williams (d 1958)
  • BECCLES by C. Gall, 1625
  • WINCHESTER NEW – from Musikalisches Handbuch der geistlichen Melodien, 1690
  • ACH GOTT UND HERR (17655) from As hymnodus sacer, Leipzig, 1625)