Isaac Watts, known as the father of the English hymn, published this hymn in 1707. It expresses powerfully the continuity of the life of the saints in heaven and that of the Church on earth, without underestimating any of the hardships of our life. The tune for this hymn needs to soar with the words. This richly textured, thoroughly modern tune was written by Derek Williams when he was organ scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge, for the choir to sing at a service in 1968 in Lichfield Cathedral, commemorating Bishop Selwyn, the founder of the college. The composer named the tune in recollection of a visit to the Scuola San Rocco in Venice, with its many Tintoretto paintings.
from notes by Alan Luff © 1999