There can be few more inspiring experiences than to sing this hymn to this tune on Ascension Day at the end of the Eucharist. G H Bourne’s words celebrate both the mystery and the glory of the sacrament, and the final verse brings imagery from the books Exodus and Revelation together to culminate in the quite stunning line ‘Risen, ascended, glorified’. The tune was first published for the use of the London Church Choir Association in 1881, but was soon taken up for these words in the 1889 Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern. Martin was a late beginner, being inspired at the age of sixteen by the playing of Herbert Oakeley to take up the organ. He was taught by John Stainer who invited him to become Master of the Choir School at St Paul’s, London, in 1874; he became Sub-organist in 1876 and was Organist from 1888 to 1916. Of all his many contributions to church music, however, this is his masterpiece – one of the very greatest of the hymn tunes of the nineteenth century.
from notes by Alan Luff © 2001