Since Our Great High Priest, Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:3-4; 2:8-11; 4:14-16)
This tune, also known as “Neander,” “Magdeburg,” and “Ephesus,” is adapted from Joachim Neander’s Alpha und Omega, Glaub-und Liebesübung, 1680. Its present form comes from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, particularly J. A. Freylinghausen’s Gesangbuch, 1704. The tune’s form, AAB, allows the seven-syllable phrases. to be sung in alternation by combinations of the following: sections of the congregation, male and female voices, choir and congregation. All voices sing the final phrase.
United Methodist Hymnal Companion
Christopher Martin Idle (b. Bromley, Kent, England, 1938) wrote this versification of texts from the book of Hebrews in 1969; it was first published in Psalm Praise (1973). Idle suggests that "the fourth stanza seems to have a message peculiarly relevant to a world where many in east and west boast of their weapons of war and rely on them to preserve 'peace.'" Idle was educated at Elthan College, St. Peter's College, Oxford, and Clifton Theological College in Bristol, and was ordained in the Church of England. He served churches in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria; London; and Oakley, Suffolk; and recently returned to London, where he is involved in various hymnal projects. A prolific author of articles on the Christian's public responsibilities, Idle has also published The Lion Book of Favorite Hymns (1980) and at least one hundred of his own hymns and biblical paraphrases. Some of his texts first appeared in hymnals published by the Jubilate Group, with which he is associated. He was also editor of Anglican Praise (1987). In 1998 Hope Publishing released Light Upon the River, a collection of 279 of his psalm and hymn texts, along with suggested tunes, scripture references, and commentary.
Before writing this hymn, Joachim Neander (1650-1680) had scoffed at his religious upbringing and led a careless, licentious life as a student in Bremen, Germany. One Sunday in 1670 he and his friends attended a service at St. Martin’s Church – mainly to criticize and mock the preacher. However, he came under the spell of Theodore Under-Eyck’s preaching and was converted from his wayward life. Enamored with Pietism, Neander associated with the Pietist leader Spener in Frankfurt. In 1674 Neander became headmaster of the Latin School in Düsseldorf and conducted pastoral duties in the Calvinistic congregation. But his Pietist leanings prompted him to organize separate church services and to abstain from the Lord’s Supper. These practices forced the authorities to suspend him in 1677. After recanting his views, Neander returned to his ordinary duties. But he was no longer happy in Düsseldorf, and he gladly accepted the opportunity to become Under-Eyck’s assistant at St. Martin’s Church in Bremen in 1679. He died soon afterward of tuberculosis. Neander loved nature and would often go for long walks. In fact, the valley of Düssel near Mettmann was named Neanderthal after him; in 1856 a skeleton of a “Neanderthal man” was found there, and that coincidence has produced a number of apocryphal stories about Neander. He wrote about sixty hymn texts and some tunes, published in Alpha und Omega (1680, expanded posthumously, 1689).