524. Hope of the World

Text Information
First Line: Hope of the world, O Christ of great compassion
Title: Hope of the World
Author: Georgia E. Harkness (1954, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 11 10 11 10
Scripture: John 6:35; John 8:12; Romans 15:13; Romans 15
Topic: Bread of Life; Commitment & Dedication; Cross of Christ2 more...
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1954, 1982, The Hymn Society of America. Used by permission
Tune Information
Name: VICAR
Composer: V. Earle Copes (1963)
Meter: 11 10 11 10
Key: D Major
Copyright: Tune © 1963, Abingdon Press. Used by permission


Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Rom. 15:13
st. 2 = John 6:35
st. 3 = John 8:12

Of the hundreds of hymns submitted in a search for new hymns for the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches (held in Evanston, IL, in August 1954), "Hope of the World" was chosen as the winner by the Hymn Society of America. Theologian Georgia E. Harkness (b. Harkness, NY, 1891; d. Claremont, CA, 1974) wrote the text to coincide with the Assembly's theme, “Jesus Christ, Hope of the World.” First published in a Hymn Society of America pamphlet, Eleven Ecumenical Hymns (1954) and in The Hymn (July 1954), the text has since appeared in many North American hymnals. Translated into several languages, it has also been published in hymnals in various other countries.

This prayer text entreats Christ, "the hope of the world," to reconcile those now involved in conflict and strife (st. 1-2) and to direct the ministry of the church to be faithful to his gospel (st. 3-5). Recognizing the brokenness of the church and the temptations of the world, this sung prayer also presents the hope and challenge of ministering in Christ's name.

Harkness studied at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received a doctoral degree from Boston University (1923), and did further studies at Harvard, Yale, and Union Theological Seminary. She taught at Elmira (NY) College (1922-1937); Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts (1937-1939); Garret School of Theology, Evanston, Illinois (1939-50); and the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California (1950-61). The first woman in the United States to be appointed a full professor in a theological seminary, Harkness was ordained in the Methodist Church in 1926. Partly because of her work in the World Council of Churches, her influence was wide-ranging. The recipient of many honors and awards, she wrote thirty-seven books, including John Calvin: The Man and His Ethics (1931), Prayer and the Common Life (1947), TheProvidence of God (1960), and Women in Church and Society (1972). Her hymn texts and other poetry were published in Holy Flame (1935), The Glory of God (1943), and Be Still and Know (1953).

Liturgical Use:
A Sung prayer appropriate for many occasions of worship; Reformation services; church festivals; mission conferences.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 12 (or DONNE SECOURS, see 12) was the tune originally selected for the text for singing at the Evanston Assembly. That tune is set to the Harkness text in many hymnals.

V. Earle Copes (PHH 302) composed VICAR in 1963 as a setting for Harkness's text for inclusion in the American Methodist Hymnal of 1966. The tune is named for the composer's father, Archie Vicar Copes (usually called by his middle name).

VICAR is a vigorous unison tune with distinctive rhythms and a colorful harmonization, and is representative of what Erik Routley (PHH 31) called the "clean-limbed" style. Organists should favor the soprano line to support this fervent prayer. Try having the choir's sopranos sing the tenor line an octave higher as a descant on stanza 5.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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