Use: Advent, Last Sundays in Ordinary Time
Required Resources: SATB, organ, children's choir or congregation
The 18th century hymn, "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending," is Charles Wesley's skillful reworking of an original 1752 text by John Cennick.
With many Biblical allusions, the hymn begins with reference to Revelation 1:7 —
Behold, he cometh with clouds!
And every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth shall lament him bitterly.
This Advent hymn, speaking majestically of the Second Coming, is generally sung to the tune Helmsley.
The tune was likely derived from an 18th century melody by Thomas Olivers, a Welchman who worked with Wesley in London.
Robert Benson has set this rousing hymn for SATB choir and organ, with treble choir or congregation joining on the first and last verses.
Verse 1 uses a standard harmonization for choir and organ, treble choir (congregation) singing the melody.
After a brief organ interlude, Verse 2 is set as an accompanied strict canon, ending with a homophonic a cappella passage closing in unison.
Another organ interlude leads to a minor key accompaniment of Verse 3, alternating women and men in unison.
Again an a cappella passage is heard, ending with simple polyphonic flavor.
The organ introduction material returns as an interlude, leading to a Maestoso Verse 4 for choir, trebles (or congregation) and a soprano descant.
Since this tune is not found in most Catholic hymnals, a graphic file of the music and text for Verses 1 and 4 can be requested by those parishes who wish to include the congregation on these parts.
Fitting for the first part of Advent, which deals with the Second Coming of Christ, this would also be appropriate for the last Sunday of the Church Year, which explore the same theme.