Text: John B. D. Monsell (1811-1875) Tune: Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)
1. On our way rejoicing, As we homeward move, Hearken to our praises, O Thou God of love! Is there grief or sadness? Thine it cannot be! Is our sky beclouded? Clouds are not from Thee! On our way rejoicing, As we homeward move, Hearken to our praises, O Thou God of love!
2. If with honest-hearted Love for God and man, Day by day Thou find us Doing what we can, Thou Who giv'st the seed-time Wilt give large increase, Crown the head with blessings, Fill the heart with peace. On our way rejoicing, As we homeward move, Hearken to our praises, O Thou God of love!
3. On our way rejoicing Gladly let us go; Conquered hath our Leader! Vanquished is our foe! Christ without, our safety; Christ within, our joy; Who, if we be faithful, Can our hope destroy? On our way rejoicing, As we homeward move, Hearken to our praises, O Thou God of love!
4. Unto God the Father Joyful songs we sing; Unto God the Savior Thankful hearts we bring; Unto God the Spirit Bow we and adore, On our way rejoicing Now and evermore. On our way rejoicing, As we homeward move, Hearken to our praises, O Thou God of love!
MEDITATION Many of us have been to country church anniversary festivals and marched out to this hymn, fragrances of baked ham and escalloped potato hot dish and pots of egg coffee floating up like incense from the church basement. Usually it was a steaming hot summer’s day and one walked out into the bright noon sun and could see ripening fields of corn and wheat around the church. Those churches have been closing out on the farmlands, but the memory is still vivid to those of us who experienced it.
The tune is by one of the more accomplished English women of the 19th century. The daughter of Anglican clergyman William Havergal who was also a poet and composer, she grew up soaking in the theology and literature of the tradition. Like the daughters of many clergymen, she wanted to learn Greek and Hebrew, so she could read the Bible in its original languages. In the year 1852-1853 she studied at the Louisenschule in Düsseldorf. It gave her a kind of finishing school education where she learned modern languages as well as Greek and Hebrew.
She continued living at home with her father, moving with him to his various parishes in Wales and other places. In 1873 she read a book All for Jesus, that “lifted her whole life into sunshine,” she said. Never quite well, she continued writing while malingering. Both a composer and a poet, she wrote many edifying books before her death from peritonitis in 1879. In addition to her composing tunes, she also wrote “Take My Life and Let it Be,” among others. A truly gifted woman of her time whose work we still enjoy as we walk out of packed churches into the summer sunshine singing her tune. Could she have imagined such a thing? People on the prairies of another continent moving toward the same home as she? Could we imagine her? For sure, we all believed in the home shining before us and its celestial banquets, hinted at in the feast waiting for us on long tables groaning with the good fruits from the fields around us. Praise God!
HYMN INFO John D. B. Monsell was born in Londonderry, Ireland. An Irish Anglican he attended Trinity College in Dublin, and served several parishes there after he was ordained. In 1853, he came to England as rector of Egham in Surrey. While he was serving the St. Nicholas Church in Guilford, he fell off the roof of his church that was being remodeled and died. He left behind many volumes of poetry and hymns. Some of the more than 300 hymns he wrote are still in use in England especially. This is his most popular hymn in the American Lutheran context.
Organ accompaniment https://youtu.be/A6ypuGl1h6M
Jazz Sunday https://youtu.be/pHlU8Ed1j-U
Medina Choir/Paul Christiansen arrangement https://youtu.be/frbLcZT4oRA
St. John’s Detroit/Recessional https://youtu.be/bK6_4g2yWHE