Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jesus & the Eucharist: Dugmore's Hymn

Among the more recent treasures of Anglican patrimony is this hymn on the Eucharist, which appears in both Hymns Ancient and Modern and the Mirfield Mission Hymn Book. There is nothing quite like it for turning the sweep of Eucharistic theology into a summary of the Gospel.

It was written by Ernest Edward Dugmore, who was born in 1843 at Bayswater, England, educated at Bruce Castle School, by private tutors, and at Wadham College, Oxford. Ordained in 1867, he was Curate at St Peter's, Vauxhall (1867-1872), Vicar of Parkstone (1872), and Canon of Sarum and Prebendary of Gillingham Major (1900). He died in 1925.

Because of the length of the hymn, and the fact that neither of the tunes provided really caught on, it never achieved the popularity it deserved (unlike some of the other great Anglo-Catholic Eucharistic hymns: "Let all mortal flesh keep silence", "Wherefore, O Father . . .", "Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour", "And now, O Father, mindful of the love . . .")

Two parishes ago I resurrected Dugmore's hymn by having it sung to the tune Blanwearn. Of course, the second half of the tune needs to be repeated each time. But it became a wonderful processional hymn for Corpus Christi. (It's a bit long for ordinary use, and I, personally, couldn't bring myself to cut any verses out!)

Christians, sing the incarnation of th'eternal Son of God,
Who, to save us, took our nature, soul and body, flesh and blood;
God, he saw man's cruel bondage, who in death's dark dungeon lay;
Man, he came to fight man's battle, and for man he won the day.
Alleluia, Alleluia to th'incarnate Son of God,
Who for man as Man hath conquered in our own true flesh and blood.

King of kings and Lord of angels, he put off his glory-crown,
Had a stable-cave for palace, and a manger for his throne;
Helpless lay, to whom creation all its life and being owed,
And the lowly Hebrew maiden Was the mother of her God.
Alleluia, Alleluia to th'incarnate Son of God,
Who concealed his dazzling Godhead 'neath the veil of flesh and blood.

Through a life of lowly labour he on earth was pleased to dwell,
All our want and sorrow sharing; God with us, Emmanuel:
Yet, a dearer, closer union Jesus in his love would frame;
He, the Passover fulfilling, gave himself as paschal Lamb.
Alleluia, Alleluia to t h'incarnate Son of God,
Who the heav'nly gifts bequeathed us of his own true flesh and blood.

Then, by man refused and hated, God for man vouchsafed to die,
Love divine its depth revealing on the heights of Calvary;
Through his dying the dominion from the tyrant death was torn,
When its Victim rose its Victor on the resurrection morn.
Alleluia, Alleluia to th'incarnate Son of God,
Who through his eternal Spirit offers his own flesh and blood.

Forty days of mystic converse lived on earth the Risen One,
Speaking of his earthly kingdom, ere he sought his heav'nly throne:
Then, his latest words a blessing, he ascended up on high,
And through rank on rank of angels Captive led captivity.
Alleluia, Alleluia to th'incarnate Son of God,
Who the holiest place hath entered in our flesh and by his blood.

Now upon the golden altar, in the midst before the throne,
Incense of his intercession he is offering for his own.
And on earth at all his altars, his true presence we adore,
And his sacrifice is pleaded, yea, till time shall be no more.
Alleluia, Alleluia to th'incarnate Son of God,
Who, abiding Priest forever, still imparts his flesh and blood.

Then, adored in highest heaven, we shall see the virgin's Son,
All creation bowed before him, Man upon th'eternal throne:
Where, like sound of many waters in one ever rising flood,
Myriad voices hymn his triumph, Victim, Priest, incarnate God.
Worthy he all praise and blessing who, by dying, death o'ercame;
Glory be to God forever! Alleluia to the Lamb!


Fr Scott Moncrieff said...

Nice hymn, I did not know it, and rather difficult to shorten.

David Chislett said...

Yep. Shortening it destroys it . . . hence the need for a good old-fashioned procession long enough to justify singing it!

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