Lyra Fidelium – Twelve Hymns on the Apostles’ Creed

I’ve been working on resources for our church’s series in the book of Ephesians and stumbled on this collection of hymns based in the Apostles Creed.  Brian Moss‘ lovely retuned version of “The Church’s One Foundation” led me here.  “The Church’s One Foundation” is author’s Samuel J Stone’s hymn to support the article on “the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.”

{From the Hymnary} This collection of hymns arose out of a theological controversy in the mid-nineteenth century. John W. Colenso, Anglican bishop of Natal, South Africa, wrote a book that expressed critical views of the historicity of parts of Scripture and questioned some articles of the Christian faith. Samuel J. Stone, a clergyman in Windsor, England, was one of the people who defended the orthodox Christian faith. He did so in part by publishing his Lyra Fidelium; Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed (1866).  The collection contains one hymn text for each article in the Apostles’ Creed – 12 in all.  He suggests tunes for each text from Hymns Ancient and Modern, which he helped edit.

Reading the preface of this collection is a fascinating glimpse into a pastor’s reasons for hymn writing.  In this instance Samuel Stone was interested in writing a collection of hymns to expand the poor’s understanding of the Apostles creed which they often repeated in public and private devotion.  He hoped that by writing a ‘simple and attractive explanation of the Creed in the popular form of a series of Hymns, such as might be sung or said in private devotion, at family prayer, or in public worship‘ that it would have a greater impact on the mind and heart than any number of more intellectual books written at the time.

His process was exhaustive and one that we should adopt for every song we write for the church .

1. He gather’s all of the sciptures together that might be helpful, or give light, or inspire the topic he is writing about. He really allows the thoughts and movements of scripture to form his own thoughts and concerns.

1b. In the case of the Apostles Creed he is also allowing the church to form his songwriting concerns.  He is allowing the church to shape what is important to sing.  He is being challenged to write from the scriptures about things that he might never write about!

2. He gather’s all of the scriptures together and writes a short prose paragraph that unites them together in a way that might be translated into poetry. Ultimately it’s important that we can translate scripture into our own mind and our own language.  If we are going to successfully teach, communicate, and inspire others in song.

3. He writes hymns that reflect and trace out redemptive history. It’s fascinating to read his hymns and watch the way he tells the story of the Gospel from Genesis to Revelation.  When I’ve left his hymns I’m edified, enlightened, and encouraged!

*As songwriter’s how are we actively engaging the worship habits of our congregation to greater inform them with meaning and biblical truth…in such a way that it indwells their normal habits of devotion. What is one habit of worship in your context that you could write a song for that would deepen their understanding?

Check out our attempt to write music to each of these hymns

Hymns of Faith – Songs for the Apostles Creed

Article I – I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth
hymn – No one else but Thee, for evermore

Article II – and in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord
hymn – God the Father’s Only Son

Article III – Who was concieved by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary
hymn – The Son forsook the Father’s home

Article IV – Suffered under pontius pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried
hymn – My Savior! I behold Thy Life

Article V – He descended into Hell: the third day he rose again from the dead.
hymn – All the sacrifice is ended

Article VI – He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty
*hymn – For Every Soul in Need (Michael Van Patter)
| Chart

Article VII – From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
hymn – Wistful are our waiting eyes

Article VIII – I believe in the Holy Ghost.
hymn – God the Spirit, we adore Thee

Article IX – The holy catholic church, the communion of the saints
*hymn – The Church’s One Foundation (Brian Moss)
mp3 | leadsheet | igrace hymnal | youtube

Article X – The forgiveness of sins.
hymn – Weary of earth and laden with my sin

Article XI – The resurrection of the body.
hymn – Winter in his heart of gloom

Article XII – the life everlasting.
hymn – The world is sad with hopes that die

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