In the 1980s there was a considerable furore in the churches as some began to change the way in which we address God in our prayers and in our hymns from the old ‘thou’ and ‘thine’ style to the modern ‘you’ and ‘your’. One hymn book dared to revise all its old hymns into this way of speaking. In all the argument it was rarely noticed that there were a few hymns (very few, it must be granted) that had been addressing God in this way quietly and acceptably for some time. This hymn was one of them. It had appeared in 1931 and was almost immediately received into popular affection, for its tune, for its realism in praying for what we want and need to pray about, and for the warmth with which it expresses this.
The tune is typically Irish in its wide range and its ending on three repeated notes. Slane is a hill to the north of Tara in County Neath, where St Patrick is said to have lit a fire for the Easter celebration and thereby challenged the authority of the pagan king Laegaire mac Neill.
from notes by Alan Luff © 2004
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