This twelfth-century Latin hymn was paraphrased by the poet Robert Bridges, who whilst at Eton counted both the composer Hubert Parry and the Anglo-Papalist priest V S Stuckey Stratton Coles as friends. Later, at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he met Gerard Manley Hopkins, and belonged to the Anglo-Catholic Brotherhood of the Holy Trinity. Despite tragedy in his personal life and the Darwinian doubts which marred the certainty of his early faith, his poetic gifts continued to intensify, producing eight plays, lyric poems and much translation. In 1899 he produced The Small Hymn Book
: the Word-Book of the Yattendon Hymnal
, which aimed to reform English hymnody and set Elizabethan tunes for translations of older Latin texts. In the Journal of Theological Studies
of 1899, Bridges commented on the contemporary state of Victorian hymnody: ‘There is something very strange and surprising in … [the] contrast between the primitive Church with its few simple melodies that ravished the educated hearer, and our own full-blown institution with its hymn-book of some 600 tunes, which when it is opened fills the sensitive worshipper with dismay, so that there are persons who would rather not go inside a church than subject themselves to the trial.’ This book—which included Love of the Father
—aimed to remedy this. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1913, and made a Companion of the Order of Merit in 1929.
Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625) was Organist of Westminster Abbey from 1623. At the funeral of James I in March 1625, he was also listed as senior Organist of the Chapel Royal in the Lord Chamberlain’s cheque book. One account of the visit of the French Ambassador to the Abbey on 15 December 1624 for the betrothal of Henrietta Maria to Charles I recounts that ‘at their entrance, the organ was touched by the best finger of that age, Mr Orlando Gibbons’. Gibbons contributed to two collections of hymnody: William Leighton’s The teares or Lamentations of a Sorrowful Soul (1614) and George Wither’s The Hymns and Songs of the Church (1623), where fifteen of his ‘songs’ were bound in with a collection of metrical Psalms. Wither’s book has been described as the first congregational hymn book of the Church of England, and the epistle dedicatory claims that he has ‘laboured to sute them to the nature of the subject and the common peoples capacities, without regard of catching the vaine blasts of Opinion. The same also hath been the ayme of Master Orlando Gibbons … in fitting them with tunes.’ In Hymns and Songs Song 22 was originally set to the hymn text ‘O Lord of hosts and God of Israel.’
from notes by The Revd Dr James Hawkey © 2014