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Strength and stay

First line:
O strength and stay upholding all creation
composer
NEH 248ii
author of text
translator of text
translator of text

 
Dykes has been called the most famous hymn-tune composer in English history. There was a period at the beginning of the twentieth century when his tunes were scorned as weak and sentimental. Now we have come to see that at his best he is tuneful and friendly, with a deep concern to reflect the text that he is setting. Apart from an excursion for study at Cambridge, his whole life and ministry was spent in the north of England, the most important part of it in Durham, then at the centre of a coal-mining area. So he wrote at a distance from the centres of fashion and of controversy, but his music was at its time forward-looking, and, perhaps because he was distant from the excesses of romanticism, it is, with all its warmth, also notable for its restraint. It was the various editions of Hymns Ancient and Modern that gave him most opportunity, and it was for the major reshaping of the book for the 1875 edition that he wrote this tune for these words. John Ellerton, an Anglican clergyman, gave the rather chaste Latin original a new richness, and Dykes matches this. In the days when Evensong was the best-attended service in many Church of England parishes, it will often have ended with this, and the congregation will have gone home prepared for a new week’s work filled with a sense of rightness at the heart of things.

from notes by Alan Luff © 2001

Recordings

The English Hymn, Vol. 2 – Jerusalem the Golden
CDP12102

Details

Track 7 on CDP12102 [2'31]

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