Hubert Parry’s name has been synonymous with national and royal events since I was glad
was first performed in Westminster Abbey at the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. However, his reputation for celebrating royal occasions began long before this—the ‘Solemn Music’ Blest pair of sirens
(sung at the Royal Wedding in 2011) was commissioned by Stanford for the Bach Choir’s celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. This hymn tune, adapted from the trio Long since in Egypt’s plenteous land
in his oratorio Judith
(1887–1888), was given this text for the hymn book of Repton School in 1924 by Dr George Gilbert Stocks, the school’s Director of Music.
The beautiful words, by the American Quaker and anti-slave-trade campaigner John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), come from the latter part of his poem The Brewing of Soma—a Quaker commentary on pagan worship. Quoting the ‘still, small voice’ of 1 Kings 19: 11–13, he encourages a more measured approach towards contact with the Divine, characteristic of the Quakers, rather than the presumed excesses of ancient paganism.
from notes by The Revd Dr James Hawkey © 2014