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HYMN 225. For all the Saints who from their Labors Rest

HYMN 225 For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest (see recipe below for All Saints' Day Pumpkin)

Danish: For alle Helgen, som i Kristen tro

Norwegian: For alle helgner some til døden tro

Hebrews 12:1-2; Revelation 14:13

Text: William H. How (1823-1897) Tune: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Jesus Welcoming the Saints into Heaven/Cathedrail in Viborg, Denmark Joakim Skovgaard's mosaic

1 For all the saints who from their labors rest, Who thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might; Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight; Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light. Alleluia! Alleluia!

3 O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, And win with them the victor's crown of gold. Alleluia! Alleluia!

4 O blest communion, fellowship divine, We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine. Alleluia! Alleluia!

5 And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia! Alleluia!

6 The golden evening brightens in the west; Soon, soon to faithful warrior cometh rest; Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest. Alleluia! Alleluia!

7 But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day; The saints triumphant rise in bright array; The King of glory passes on his way. Alleluia! Alleluia!

8 From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast, Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia! Alleluia!


Dore's image of the Empyrean, where celestial beings dwell in Dante's Paradiso

Ask almost anybody anywhere who loves the hymns of the church, what hymn to sing for All Saints Day, which is tomorrow, and they will almost without fail, name this one. While the text is wonderful, it is the tune by Vaughan Williams that has brought it into the most favorite list. It is sung at funerals and memorial services, All Saints' Day, and any time one wants to remember a saint.

It recalls saints from the past, but then moves to the current moment and day when we need to take up their causes and their fights for the faith. Although we are weak, their faith can stir us with new courage. For after all we are, by virtue of our faith, saints. The name of the tune means “without a name” meaning all Christians.

The military images with clashing weapons bother some, but they are used to describe the battles of the saints of old, and to encourage us, feebly struggling. The image of the triumph sounding, far away, that makes us brave and strengthens us, reminds me of a story from World War II that my colleague Michael Rogness told about Murdo MacDonald, a chaplain. (What follows are Mike's words.) “Murdo, a chaplain in the British army, taken prisoner by the Germans was sent to a prison camp. The Germans kept the Americans and British in separate compounds, separated by an empty strip of land marked by barbed wire. They were strictly forbidden to communicate with each other across the space. The Germans knew enough English so they could detect any communication.

“The Americans had no chaplain on their side, so the Germans sent MacDonald to the American side to 'bring religion to the Americans.' In time he discovered that he could speak Gaelic at the fence to someone on the other side, a language none of the Germans understood, so they paid no attention to the gibberish.

“In spring of 1944 rumors flew through the camp that the Germans were expecting some kind of invasion. Then early one morning in early June, MacDonald was awakened and told that the Welshman on the other side was calling for him. He hurried to the fence, and heard the message yelled at him, 'Thanig iad!' MacDonald turned to the Americans clustered around him and translated, 'They’ve come!' Just the two short words, reporting the Normandy invasion, which changed the whole course of the war and determined its eventual outcome.  When the Americans heard the news pandemonium broke out among the prisoners. They knew what it meant. In the days that followed, the camp was still a prison, guards were still stationed all around, etc.  But everything had changed.”

No matter that they were still bound, they were free. I have rarely heard a story that describes the Christian life more vividly than that. He's come! Our champion has landed. Victory is ours!

William Walsingham How

HYMN INFO The writer of the hymn text, William How was an English priest who became the bishop of Wakefield in 1888. A quiet man, he was known as the Children’s bishop for the hymns he wrote for them, and the poor man’s bishop given his work with the poor and needy in his diocese. He worked tirelessly in the slums of London and Yorkshire to improve conditions.

The hymn was first sung to a tune by Joseph Barnby, the consummate Victorian composer. When the editors of the 1906 English Hymnal were doing their work, he was the last composer they wanted to include as he was everything they disliked about English hymnody at the time. Vaughan Williams wrote this tune for it. With its first bass pedal downbeat, it became one of the most famous and beloved tunes from the English treasury of hymnody. Its unison stanzas make for a strong sound, and the harmonies more reflective. When I was teaching the writing of hymns at the seminary, I was always struck by how many pastors had written hymn texts to this tune. While it might have helped to make a text grander than it really was, the sound of the tune brought How’s words to mind and other words did not work. This meant that composers composed several tunes that fit those new texts. You always know it when you hear the bass note at the beginning, like, We know that Christ is raised….

LINKS Big Sing, cast of thousands!

Concordia Publishing House Version

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Funeral for George Herbert Walker Bush

Fernando Ortego/solo, piano and cello

All Saints Day pumpkin recipe. I have made it every All Saints' Day for fifty years!

All Saints' Day Pumpkin

Preheat oven to ca 330 degrees

Hollow out one medium sized pumpkin.

Saute in butter one diced onion, several diced garlic cloves, sliced green, yellow and red peppers and as much raw jumbo shrimp as you can afford! 2 lbs is what I use

Put the rice in the pumpkin.

On top of that the sauted vegetables,

Then the shrimp.

Add 4 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper. And some chicken broth.

Replace top of pumpkin and seal it tightly--strong toothpicks work.

Place it in a frying pan or something with a low rim so you can lift it into a serving bowl. (it will be heavy!)

Bake until done--I usually do a little under three hours.

Take out and remove to large bowl. Cut open. The rice is always the surprise--will it be done? (Sometimes to avoid anxiety about this mysterious process, some precook the rice, but I never have. Usually it is done, but sometimes al dente would describe the rice, to my dismay.


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Wow. How great is this? One of my favorite hymns and a recipe too (which looks delicious)? Plus that wonderful image from Doré, which goes perfect with the line about the "countless host." This is one of the first hymns I sang to (and therefore taught) our son Benjamin. Once, when we were visiting my mother and he was not yet 2 years old, he called out, "M O G!!" He kept repeating that and I couldn't understand it until he finally was in tears, repeating MOG, MOG. And then I got it: "your NAME O JESUS be forever blessed." I sang it and he was calmed down. The tune makes sure that everyone gets the main point.

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