582

You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The text is a hymn of thankful praise to Christ for his victorious reign and for providing salvation for his people. It reveals the cosmic scope of Christ's kingdom (st. I) and helps us to join our voices with the great doxology to Christ, the Lamb, as foretold in Revelation 5:9-14 (st. 24). In the first stanza "servants" refers to all Christians, not just clergy, to those made "to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God" (Rev. 5:10).
 
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

What we know as the attributes of God reveal his character and being. For these, he is worthy of praise and adoration. Even before he says or does anything, he is praise-worthy. The opening words of Belgic Confession, Article 1 declare that God is “eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.”
 

The Lord’s Prayer ends with a doxology, and Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 128 extrapolates: “Your holy name…should receive all the praise, forever.” After expressing our trust in the total care of God for all things, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 declares, “God is able to do this because he is Almighty God and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.” And so we express our praise and adoration to God for who he is.

582

You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

Introductory/Framing Text

We stand beneath the cross of Jesus,
and we see there his dying form.
Witnessing his suffering and his great love for us
compels us to come before him in prayer.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
 
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
582

You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

Tune Information

Name
HANOVER
Key
G Major or modal
Meter
10.10.11.11
582

You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

Hymn Story/Background

The year this text was written, 1744, was a year of political and religious turmoil in Britain. The newly formed Methodist societies were suspected of being merely disguised Roman Catholic societies and were accused of attempting to overthrow the Crown. To strengthen and reassure his Methodist followers, Charles Wesley anonymously published Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecution (1744). This text, in seventeen stanzas, was the first of the "Hymns to be Sung in a Tumult." Of those stanzas, 1 and 4-6 of Wesley's Part I are included; the battle-song stanzas, which the small but heroic Methodist groups sang in the face of violent opposition, are omitted.
 
The text is a hymn of thankful praise to Christ for his victorious reign and for providing salvation for his people. It reveals the cosmic scope of Christ's kingdom (st. I) and helps us to join our voices with the great doxology to Christ, the Lamb, as foretold in Revelation 5:9-14 (st. 24). In the first stanza "servants" refers to all Christians, not just clergy, to those made "to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God" (Rev. 5:10).
 
HANOVER is a well-crafted tune, distinguished in part by its triple meter, which was still rare in hymn tunes in the early eighteenth century. Like the music of its immediate neighbors, Psalms 148 and 150, which also begin and end with hallelujahs, HANOVER calls for the full resources of voices and organ and other instruments. It should be sung in harmony throughout–or try harmony on the first three stanzas and unison voices and the descant on the final stanza to provide a strong conclusion to this powerful psalm.
 
These stanzas are selected from a larger text in which Charles Wesley wanted to reassure and comfort the early Methodist societies in their frequent “times of trouble and persecution.” Initially ascribed to Handel, William Croft’s music is one of several tunes associated with this text, and comes from a supplement to the “New Version Psalter.”
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Several members of the Wesley family are significant figures in the history of English hymnody, and none more so than Charles Wesley (b. Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, 1707; d. Marylebone, London, England, 1788). Charles was the eighteenth child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, who educated him when he was young. After attending Westminster School, he studied at Christ Church College, Oxford. It was there that he and George Whitefield formed the Oxford "Holy Club," which Wesley's brother John soon joined. Their purpose was to study the Bible in a disciplined manner, to improve Christian worship and the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and to help the needy. Because of their methods for observing the Christian life, they earned the name “Methodists.”
 
Charles Wesley was ordained a minister in the Church of England in 1735 but found spiritual conditions in the church deplorable. Charles and John served briefly as missionaries to the British colony in Georgia. Enroute they came upon a group of Moravian missionaries, whose spirituality impressed the Wesleys. They returned to England, and, strongly influenced by the ministry of the Moravians, both Charles and John had conversion experiences in 1738. The brothers began preaching at revival meetings, often outdoors. These meetings were pivotal in the mid-eighteenth-century "Great Awakening" in England.
 
Though neither Charles nor John Wesley ever left the Church of England them­selves, they are the founders of Methodism. Charles wrote some sixty-five hundred hymns, which were published in sixty-four volumes during his lifetime; these include Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1741), Hymns on the Lord's Supper ( 1 745), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1753), and Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (1780). Charles's hymns are famous for their frequent quotations and allusions from the Bible, for their creedal orthodoxy and their subjective expression of Christian living, and for their use of some forty-five different meters, which inspired new hymn tunes in England. Numerous hymn texts by Wesley are standard entries in most modern hymnals; fourteen are included in the Psalter Hymnal, 1987.
 
Charles's elder brother John also studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, and was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1728. A tutor at Lincoln College in Oxford from 1729 to 1735, Wesley became the leader of the Oxford "Holy Club" mentioned above. After his contact with the Moravian missionaries, Wesley began translating Moravian hymns from German and published his first hymnal, Collection of Psalms and Hymns, in Charleston, South Carolina (1737); this hymnal was the first English hymnal ever published for use in worship. Upon his return to England in 1738 Wesley "felt his heart strangely warmed" at a meeting on Aldersgate Street, London, when Peter Bohler, a Moravian, read from Martin Luther's preface to his commentary on the epistle to the Romans. It was at that meeting that John received the assurance that Christ had truly taken away his sins. That conversion experience (followed a few days later by a similar experience by his brother Charles) led to his becoming the great itinerant evangelist and administrator of the Methodist "societies," which would eventually become the Methodist Church. An Anglican all his life, John Wesley wished to reform the Church of England and regretted the need to found a new denomina­tion. Most of the hymnals he prepared with his brother Charles were intended for Christians in all denominations; their Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (1780) is one of the few specifically so designated. John was not only a great preacher and organizer, he was also a prolific author, editor, and translator. He translat­ed many classic texts, wrote grammars and dictionaries, and edited the works of John Bunyan and Richard Baxter. In hymnody he is best known for his translation of selec­tions from the German hymnals of Johann Cruger ('Jesus, thy boundless love to me"), Freylinghausen, and von Zinzendorf ('Jesus, thy blood and righteousness"), and for his famous "Directions for Singing," which are still printed in Methodist hymnals. Most significant, however, is his well-known strong hand in editing and often strengthening his brother Charles's hymn texts before they copublished them in their numerous hymnals.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

William Croft (b. Nether Ettington, Warwickshire, England, 1678; d. Bath, Somerset, England, 1727) was a boy chorister in the Chapel Royal in London and then an organist at St. Anne's, Soho. Later he became organist, composer, and master of the children of the Chapel Royal, and eventually organist at Westminster Abbey. His duties at the Chapel Royal were expanded in 1715 to include teaching boys reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as composition and organ playing. Croft published a two-volume collection of his church music, Musica sacra (1724), in one score rather than in separate part books, and in his preface encouraged others to do likewise. He contributed psalm tunes to The Divine Companion (1707) and to the Supplement to the New Version of Psalms by Dr. Brady and Mr. Tate (1708), which included HANOVER. These tunes mark a new development in English psalm tunes. HANOVER was printed anonymously, but William Croft is generally credited with its composition. The name derives from the House of Hanover, the family of King George III.
— Bert Polman
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