Hymn of the Month – February 2024

By: Stephen Schall

During Lent we will highlight two hymns. During the early weeks we will sing the ancient text, Kind Maker of the Word. This is a seventh-century Latin hymn, Audi benigne Conditor,”  that is attributed to Gregory the Great (c. 540-604). It has been used for centuries during Lent at the daily services prayed in monasteries. Gregory was a nobleman who became a Benedictine monk, and later, pope. He contributed greatly to the universal church, but among musicians he is famous for founding or reestablishing the Roman singing school. Gregorian Chant is named for him. 

The hymn is set to the tune,  A LA VENUE DE NOËL, which is a French Christmas carol. It was composed sometime in the 15th century.

The second hymn is not unfamiliar but the tune is. Ride On, Ride On in Majesty is a 19th-century Palm-Sunday text. It was written by Anglican clergyman Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868). The text deals beautifully with the transition from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem by pointing the singer to the impending Passion. 

The tune, THE KING’S MAJESTY, which we will be learning, was composed specifically for this text by Graham George (1912-1993). George was a Canadian composer, church musician, and educator of English birth. He composed this tune because he was concerned that other tunes to which the hymn was set did not adequately fit the “tragic trumpets” of Palm Sunday. Since Palm Sunday happens once a year, and this tune is not a simple one, we’ll be singing it during the weeks preceding Palm Sunday this year.