God of the prophets
Score and parts for TOULON arranged for two trumpets, two trombones, French horn, and Timpani. This hymn and tune have been traditional for ordinations and church anniversaries. The text here has been updated for contemporary use.
TOULON is an abbreviation of OLD 124TH, and has no relationship to the eponymous city; the longer form was published in Trente quatre Pseaumes de David, the 1551 Genevan Psalter, edited by Louis Bourgeois. It is a stately tune which in TOULON's shorter form has few appropriate hymns, especially when considering a descant. The original form was published as a unison tune, in that time and place the standard practice, but acquired harmonizations as the tune spread throughout Europe. The hymn God of the prophets, used primarily for ordinations, is an example with sufficient gravitas. This version is the Anglican variant, which signals a cadential rallentando by expanding one measure to 6/4 and stretching two notes into half notes, a nuance lending grandeur to the tune.
The hymn God of the prophets by Denis Wortman was originally written in 1884, not for singing, but as a poem of commemoration for the Canadian seminary from which he graduated. It had more verses, and as was typical of the age, addressed to an all-male world of divinity scholars. Within six years it had been adapted to congregational singing, though substantial text alterations over the past century mean seven verses are now five (or four), and one or more of those were written by others, not least because of its original masculine triumphalism (an alternative text - ours, which you may freely use - can be found on this page, and is used in this setting). Another adjustment used in some hymnals substitute the first person ("we", "us") for the third ("they", "them"). The Moravian hymn for Pentecost, O Holy Ghost (alt., Spirit of God ) is a very convincing alternative text.
- First publication 8.9.3
- Zipped files for both English format (with a 6/4 bar) and US format (4/4 throughout)
Intro Ensemble + Organ
1 Tutti, base harmonization (original)
God of the prophets, bless the prophets' heirs!
Elijah's mantle o'er Elisha cast:
each age for thine own solemn task prepares,
make each one stronger, nobler than the last.
2 Organ - base, hymnal, or ad lib harmonization
Anoint them prophets! Teach them thine intent:
to human need their quickened hearts awake;
fill them with grace, their lips make eloquent*
that righteousness like morning's dawn light break.*
3 Organ + Descant with harmonization
Anoint them priests, who interceding pray*
For pardon and for love and hope and peace,
That, through their prayer, the world now gone astray*
In Jesus then finds mercy and release.*
- note: descant melisma over tune half notes in 6/4 bar
4 Organ - base, hymnal, or ad lib harmonization
Anoint them preachers of thy love, O Lord!*
Anoint them with the Spirit of thy Son:
Neither by power, nor victor's flashing sword,*
theirs but by love of Christ a kingdom won.*
5 Tutti, separate harmonization
Make them apostles, heralds of thy cross;
forth may they go to tell all realms thy grace:
inspired of thee, may they count all but loss,
and stand at last with joy before thy face.
Louis Bourgeois, 1551
adapt. fr. Pseaumes Octante Trois de David
(Genevan Psalter #124)
'God of the prophets' by Denis Wortman, 1884
St. 1 and 5 original
St. 2, 3, and 4 alt.*
*alt. David Maurand CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 (license)
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