O happy band of pilgrims

Full Text

1 O happy band of pilgrims,
if onward you will tread,
with Jesus as your fellow,
to Jesus as your head!
O happy if ye labour
as Jesus did for all,
if praing, fasting, list'ning,
you hear the Savior's call!

2 The faith by which ye see him,
the hope in which ye yearn,
the love that through all troubles
to him alone will turn--
what are they but forerunners,
to lead you to his sight?
What are they but the effluence
of uncreated light?

3 The trials that beset you,
the sorrows ye endure,
the manifold temptations
that death alone can cure--
what are they but his jewels
of right celestial worth?
What are they but the ladder
set up to heav'n on earth?

4 The cross that Jesus carried,
he carried as your due;
the crown that Jesus weareth,
he weareth it for you.
O happy band of pilgrims,
look upward to the skies,
where such a light affliction
shall win so great a prize!

Source: Rejoice in the Lord #246

Translator: J. M. Neale

Neale, John Mason, D.D., was born in Conduit Street, London, on Jan. 24, 1818. He inherited intellectual power on both sides: his father, the Rev. Cornelius Neale, having been Senior Wrangler, Second Chancellor's Medallist, and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and his mother being the daughter of John Mason Good, a man of considerable learning. Both father and mother are said to have been "very pronounced Evangelicals." The father died in 1823, and the boy's early training was entirely under the direction of his mother, his deep attachment for whom is shown by the fact that, not long before his death, he wrote of her as "a mother to whom I owe more than I can express." He was educated at Sherborne Grammar School, and was afterwards… Go to person page >

Author: St. Joseph the Hymnographer

Joseph, St., the Hymnographer. A native of Sicily, and of the Sicilian school of poets is called by Dr. Neale (in his Hymns of the Eastern Church), Joseph of the Studium, in error. He left Sicily in 830 for a monastic life at Thessalonica. Thence he went to Constantinople; but left it, during the Iconoclastic persecution, for Rome. He was for many years a slave in Crete, having been captured by pirates. After regaining his liberty, he returned to Constantinople. He established there a monastery, in connection with the Church of St. John Chrysostom, which was filled with inmates by his eloquence. He was banished to the Chersonese for defence of the Icons, but was recalled by the empress Theodora, and made Sceuophylax (keeper of the sacred… Go to person page >


O happy band of pilgrims. [Pilgrims of Jesus.] Appeared in Dr. Neale's Hymns of the Eastern Church, 1862, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines, with the note by Dr. Neale, "This is merely a cento from the Canon on SS. Chrysanthus and Daria (March 19)." In his Preface to the 3rd edition, 1866, he is more explicit, and says concerning this hymn, “Safe home, safe home in port," and "Art thou weary?" they "contain so little that is from the Greek, that they ought not to have been included in this collection; in any future edition they shall appear as an Appendix."
Dr. Neale did not live to publish another edition: but in 1882 the 4th edition with notes, was issued under the editorship of S. G. Hatherly, and in it the three hymns named were "removed from the body of the work at Dr. Neale's suggestion" and included in an Appendix. Its proper designation, therefore, is By Dr. Neale, based on the Greek Canon on SS. Chrysanthius and Daria by St. Joseph the Hymnographer. It must be added that no Greek lines corresponding to those in the English hymn can be found in that Canon. Dr. Neale nevertheless found what he wanted there, that is the inspiration to write the hymn as it now stands. The use of this hymn is very extensive in all English-speaking countries.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


O happy band of pilgrims, p. 834, i. The text of this hymn in Church Hymns , 1903, is Dr. Neale's original with st. iii. as the first part of st. iv. in 8 lines, and an alteration in st. v., line 1. That in Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1904, is a new cento, with alterations, from Dr. Neale's full text of 1862. The English Hymnal, 1906, has Dr. Neale's text with alteration as below. The original of st. v., line 1, is "What are they but vaunt-couriers." This is given in Church Hymns as ..."but His heralds"; in Hymns Ancient & Modern as ..."but the couriers"; and in The English Hymnal as ... but forerunners."

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)


ST. HILDA (Knecht)

The original form of ST. EDITH (also known as ST. HILDA) was composed in 1793 by Justin Heinrich Knecht for the text “Der neidern Menschhiet Hülle.” It was published in Vollstandige Sammlung … Choralmelodien (1799), edited by Johann Friedrich Christmann and Knecht, who composed ninety-seven o…

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Melchior Vulpius (PHH 397) composed this short chorale tune, published as a setting for the anonymous funeral hymn "Christus, der ist me in Leben" ("For Me to Live Is Jesus") in Vulpius's Ein Schön Geistlich Gesangbuch (1609). Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) based his Cantata 95 on this tune and provided tw…

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ST. ANSELM (Barnby)



The Cyber Hymnal #4946
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Instances (1 - 9 of 9)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #508
Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #208
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #530
Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #550
Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #368
Rejoice in the Lord #246TextPage Scan
Small Church Music #1573Audio
The Cyber Hymnal #4946TextScoreAudio
The New English Hymnal #418
Include 144 pre-1979 instances