595. Praise to God in the Highest!

1 Praise to God in the highest!
Bless us, O Father:
praise to you!
Guide and prosper the nations,
rulers, and peoples:
praise to you!

2 May the truth in its beauty
flourish triumphant:
praise to you!
May the mills bring us bread, for
food and for giving:
praise to you!

3 May the good be obeyed and
evil be conquered:
praise to you!
Give us laughter, and set us
daily rejoicing:
praise to you!

4 Peace on earth and goodwill be
ever among us:
praise to you!
Amen, alleluia,
alleluia,
amen.

Text Information
First Line: Praise to God in the highest
Title: Praise to God in the Highest!
Translator: Percy Dearmer (1928)
Meter: 753 D
Scripture: Psalm 126
Topic: Doxologies; Industry & Labor; Praise & Adoration1 more...
Source: Russian, 19th cent
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: SLAVA BOGU
Arranger: Dale Grotenhuis (1984)
Meter: 753 D
Key: G Major
Source: Russian
Copyright: Arrangement © 1987, CRC Publications


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 2 = Ps. 126:2-3

Originally a Russian folk carol ("Slava Bogu na nebye"), this text was published by Yakushkin in 1815; it exists with many variants in Russian music collections. The English version of the selected stanzas included in the Psalter Hymnal was taken from a translation by A. F. D. in the Oxford Book of Carols (1928). According to editors at Oxford University Press, A. F. D. stood for Percy Dearmer (b. Kilburn, Middlesex, England, 1867; d. London, England, 1936), one of three editors of that hymnbook. Bert Polman added the final "alleluias" to complete this setting for the Psalter Hymnal.

Though Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakov called this a Christmas hymn (note st. 4 with its reference to Luke 2: 14), the stanzas function as a general hymn of prayer suitable for all seasons of the year. Framed by a tone of praise to God and a recurring refrain, “Praise to you,” the stanzas petition God for the blessings of guidance (st. 1), truthfulness and daily food (st. 2), goodness and rejoicing (st. 3), and peace (st. 4).

Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, England, Dearmer was ordained in the Church of England in 1892. He served a number of churches and was a Red Cross chaplain in Serbia, where his first wife died. Dearmer also lectured in England and abroad (including the United States) and from 1919-1936 was professor of ecclesiastical art at King's College, London. Dearmer had many interests, and he published books on a wide ran of topics-church history, faith healing, fasting, and art. But he is especially noted for contribution to liturgy and church music. Along with others he edited The English Hymnal (1906), Songs of Praise (1925, enlarged 1931), and the Oxford Book of Carols (1928). He also wrote a hymnal handbook, Songs of Praise Discussed (1933), produced original hymns, and translated hymns from Latin and other languages into English.

Liturgical Use:
Because of its similarities in theme to the Lord's Prayer, as part of the spoken and sung prayers in many worship services, including Christmas Day.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

A favorite Russian folk tune, SLAVA BOGU was used by several famous composers in their works. Ludwig van Beethoven incorporated the melody into the trio of his second Rasumovsky String Quartet (Op. 59), Rimsky-Korsakov used it in his cantata Slava, and Modest Mussorgsky employed the tune in the coronation scene of his opera Boris Godunov. Like Martin F. Shaw's setting in the Oxford Book of Carols, Dale Grotenhuis' (PHH 4) harmonization places the original Russian melody in the soprano in the first half and repeats it in the tenor line in the second half.

There are several ways to sing this Russian folk hymn. The congregation could sing as written, considering the soprano line as the melody throughout. An even simpler way would be to sing only the original melody, which is found in the first half, and consider this half to be musically complete, to be repeated for each of the eight sections of text. Then the melody would remain in the upper voice and be sung twice for each complete stanza. A third way, the most interesting musically, would be to sing antiphonally: the congregation could sing the first phrases followed by the choir, or the treble voices of the congregation could sing the first half of each stanza followed by the men singing the tenor melody. During the second half of each stanza the organist should support the tenor melody with a solo stop.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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