Songs of Thankfulness and Praise

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Taking Matthew 1: 1-11 as his theme for stanzas 1-3, Dix likens the journey of the wise men who came to worship the Christ to our own Christian pilgrimage. The pattern of these stanzas is "as they … so may we." Stanzas 4 and 5 are a prayer that our journey on the "narrow way" may bring us finally to glory where Christ is the light (Rev. 21:23) and where we may perfectly sing his praise.
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Throughout stanza 2, Jesus is manifested as “prophet, priest and king supreme”; using parallel language, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 12, Question and Answer 31 explains that Jesus is “anointed with the Holy Spirit” to be our “chief prophet and teacher,” our “only high priest” and our “eternal king.”
The refrain ends by confessing that “God in flesh [is] made manifest.” Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 14, Question and Answer 35 also confesses that Jesus “took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature...”

Tune Information

D Major
Meter D

Musical Suggestion

An organist could introduce this hymn to the congregation through preludes or alternative accompaniments for congregational singing. Since the tune SALZBURG has been set to other texts as well, organists should also look for settings of "At the Lamb's High Feast" or "Alle Menschen." A wonderful prelude, "Chorale and 8 Partitas on Alle Menschen" (several variations are for manuals only) is included in Johann Pachelbel Selected Organ Works, Vol IV (Barenreiter, 1016). An arrangement by David N. Johnson is found in Free Accompaniments to Hymns, Vol. Ill (Augsburg, 11-9189). His fourth variation lends itself well to a trumpet or flute descant.
When both choir and congregation are familiar with the tune, try singing the hymn together, as follows:
  • Stanza 1: choir and congregation in unison
  • Stanza 2: choir in parts, perhaps using the more elaborate Bach setting, found in Rejoice in the Lord #251, The Hymnal 1940 #53, or the new Hymnbook 1982 #135
  • Stanza 3: congregation and choir in unison or harmony (or, for an easier choral variation, the women of the choir can sing the tenor line an octave up, with the men on the melody).
For a more elaborate and festive setting of "Songs of Thankfulness and Praise," you may want to try Robert Powell's hymn concertato for congregation, SATB, organ, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, and timpani (GIA Publications, Inc., G-2456).
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 6)
— Marilyn Mulder

Hymn Story/Background

Christopher Wordsworth (b. Lambeth, London, England, 1807; d. Harewood, Yorkshire, England, 1885), nephew of the great Romantic poet William Wordsworth, wrote this hymn in five stanzas. It was published in his Holy Year (1862) John 3:13-17 with the heading "Sixth Sunday after Epiphany." Wordsworth described the text as follows
[It is a] recapitulation of the successive manifestations of Christ, which have already been presented in the services of the former weeks throughout the season of Epiphany; and anticipation of that future great and glorious Epiphany, at which Christ will be manifest to all, when he will appear again to judge the world.
The didactic text teaches the meaning of Epiphany–the manifestation of Christ in his birth (st. 1), baptism, miracle at Cana (st. 2), healing of the sick, power over evil, and coming as judge (st. 3). Originally the refrain line was "Anthems be to thee addressed, God in man made manifest." The revised refrain borrows Peter's confession, "You are the Christ!" (Mark 8:29), and makes that our corporate confession as we acknowledge the “Word become flesh” who lived among us.
The tune SALZBURG, named after the Austrian city made famous by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was first published anonymously in the nineteenth edition of Praxis Pietatis Melica (1678); in that hymnbook's twenty-fourth edition (1690) the tune was attributed to Jakob Hintze (b. Bernau, Germany, 1622; d. Berlin, Germany, 1702).
The harmonization by Johann S. Bach is simplified from his setting in his Choralgesänge (Rejoice in the Lord [231] and The Hymna1 1982 [135] both contain Bach's full harmonization). The tune is a rounded bar form (AABA) easily sung in harmony. But sing the refrain line in unison with full organ registration.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Wordsworth was a prolific author and the most renowned Greek scholar of his day. Included in his works are Memoirs of William Wordsworth (1851), Commentary on the Mole Bible (1856-1870), Church History (1881-1883), innumerable sermons and pamphlets, and The Holy Year (1862), which contained 117 of his original hymns as well as 82 others written for all the Sundays and Christian holy days according to the Book of Common Prayer. Wordsworth was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, where he distinguished himself as a brilliant student. He later taught at Trinity College and was headmaster of Harrow School (1836-1844). Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1835, he was canon of Westminster in 1844, a country priest in Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire (1850-1869), and then Bishop of Lincoln (1869-1885).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Partly as a result of the Thirty Years' War and partly to further his musical education, Jakob Hintze (b. Bernau, Germany, 1622; d. Berlin, Germany, 1702) traveled widely as a youth, including trips to Sweden and Lithuania. In 1659 he settled in Berlin, where he served as court musician to the Elector of Brandenburg from 1666 to 1695. Hintze is known mainly for his editing of the later editions of Johann Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica, to which he contributed some sixty-five of his original tunes.
— Bert Polman