"Glory be to God on high"

On the whole, I’m not thrilled with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches’ Hymns for a Pilgrim People, but it does have a hymn that I dearly love and doesn’t get enough attention.

Glory be to God on high” — matched to the Welsh tune Gwalchmai — was written in 1889 by Unitarian minister and hymn writer Theodore Chickering Williams during his tenure (1883-1896) at All Souls, New York. Happy, lively, robust but devout.

The second verse goes:

Creatures of the field and flood, Alleluia!
Earth and sea cry “God is good,” Alleluia!
Toiling pilgrims raise the song, Alleluia!
Saints in light the strain prolong, Alleluia!

You can find it in the Unitarian and Universalist Hymns of the Spirit at #161 and at Hymns for a Pilgrim People at #33. It must have been in the Pilgrim Hymnal (which I’ve misplaced), because it’s also in the other Pilgrim Hymnal-alternative, Hymns of Truth and Light at #35. It is not, however, in either of the most recent British Unitarian hymnals, so I think there must be a mutual influence from all of these American red-covered hymnals. (My copy of Singing the Living Tradition is also AWOL, but I don’t think it’s in there. It’s not in The New Century Hymnal.)

One Reply to “"Glory be to God on high"”

  1. -I rather liked that hymn. Pitty I haven’t heard it sung before. In my fantasy world it would be nice if the UUA could produce a hymnal supplement of hymns by Unitarian and Universalist composers and lyricists. Or maybe that is the sort of thing that could be put together as part of a custom hymnal? It seems to me that with print on demand technology, custom hymnals should be easier and cheaper to produce.

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