478

Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 19, Question and Answer 52 professes that “in all distress and persecution, with uplifted head, I confidently await the very judge who has already offered himself to the judgment of God in my place and removed the whole curse from me. Christ will cast all his enemies and mine into everlasting condemnation, but will take me and all his chosen ones to himself into the joy and glory of heaven.”
 

Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57 describes what believers can expect to experience: “…We will see our Savior face to face…he will set all things right…we face that day without fear for the Judge is our Savior whose shed blood declares us righteous. We live confidently, anticipating his coming...”

478

Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding

Blessing/Benediction

Optional readings
(1 Thess. 3:11-13; Phil. 3:20-21)
May the Lord make your love increase and
overflow for each other and for everyone else,
just as ours does for you.
May he strengthen your hearts
so that you will be blameless and holy
in the presence of our God and Father
when our Lord Jesus comes
with all his holy ones.
 
Our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ,
who, by the power that enables him
to bring everything under his control,
will transform our lowly bodies
so that they will be like his glorious
body.
478

Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding

Tune Information

Name
MERTON
Key
E♭ Major
Meter
8.7.8.7

Recordings

478

Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding

Hymn Story/Background

Although earliest manuscript copy dates from the tenth century, this text is possibly as old as the fifth century. It is based on the Latin hymn 'Vox clara ecce intonat" and its 1632 revision "En clara vox redarguit." The text in Lift Up Your Hearts  is a revision of both Edward Caswall's translation in his Lyra Catholica (1849) and the translation in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861).
 
The hymn is most useful for Advent because it permits various interpretations of Christ's coming. Stanzas 1-3 contain references to Christ's first coming, but they can be used to celebrate his second coming as well. Stanza 4 surely refers to the second coming, and stanza 5, the only stanza addressed to God, is a doxology.
 
As does the Bible in its foretelling the coming of Christ, this Advent hymn includes references to Christ’s first coming and his coming again. Though composed earlier, the tune was united to this text by William H. Monk for Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861); that union has remained in all modern hymnals.
 
William H. Monk composed MERTON and published it in The Parish Choir (1850). The tune has been associated with this text since the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. The tune's title is thought to refer to Walter de Merton, founder of Merton College, Oxford, England.
 
Monk is best known for his music editing of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861, 1868, 1875, and 1889 editions). He also adapted music from plainsong and added accompaniments for Introits for Use Throughout the Year, a book issued with that famous hymnal. MERTON consists of two long lines. It has an attractive rising figure at the opening, and it features consistent quarter-note rhythms. Sing the inner stanzas in a subdued manner, rising on stanza 4 to prepare for the climactic doxology in stanza 5. The hymn is suitable for part singing, but sing stanza 5 in unison with a choir singing the descant; add trumpets if possible.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Beginning in his teenage years, William H. Monk (b. Brompton, London, England, 1823; d. London, 1889)  held a number of musical positions. He became choirmaster at King's College in London in 1847 and was organist and choirmaster at St. Matthias, Stoke Newington, from 1852 to 1889, where he was influenced by the Oxford Movement. At St. Matthias, Monk also began daily choral services with the choir leading the congregation in music chosen according to the church year, including psalms chanted to plainsong. He composed over fifty hymn tunes and edited The Scottish Hymnal (1872 edition) and Wordsworth's Hymns for the Holy Year (1862) as well as the periodical Parish Choir (1840-1851).
— Bert Polman
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