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Sing of Evangelists,
Apostles and Martyrs

by Gary D. Penkala

All Saints

In any given diocese, a large number of parishes are dedicated to the Holy Trinity, to the Holy Spirit, or to Our Lord (usually under one of his titles, like Good Shepherd, or a Gospel event in his life, like Ascension). Another large portion honor the Blessed Virgin Mary under one of her many titles, like Our Lady of Lourdes. After this, a sizeable group have as their patron one of the Evangelists, Apostles or early Martyrs. For them, this hymn is quite appropriate.

The text, From all thy saints in warfare, is often found in Anglican hymnals, and from there came to use in the Episcopal Church in the U.S. I found it again just recently in a old thin paperback called Church Hymns and Services by The Parish Press (Fort Wayne IN).

The hymn was written by Horatio Bolten Nelson (1823-1913), the Third Earl Nelson, who compiled The Salisbury Hymn Book, which later became The Sarum Hymnal. His Saint's Day Hymn, quoted below, is his most popular text. The hymn can be useful to parishes whose title is mentioned, perhaps as their "patronal anthem," and to other parishes on the feast days whereon the saints are celebrated.

The meter is, meaning the first four phrases contain 7 syllables, then 6 syllables, then 7, then 6. This pattern is "doubled" for the last four phrases. There are many tunes with that meter; for example:

  • Ach Gott vom Himmelreiche (from Musæ Sioniæ)
  • All Hallows (by George C. Martin)
  • Angel's Story (by Arthur H. Mann)
  • Anthes (by Friedrich K. Anthes)
  • Aurelia (by Samuel S. Wesley)
  • Ave virgo virginum (from Leisentritt's Gesangbuch)
  • Bona patria (from Sacred Hymns and Tunes)
  • Commemoration (by Bartholomæus Gesius)
  • Complainer (by William Walker)
  • Day of Rest (by James William Elliott)
  • Ellacombe (from Gesangbuh der Herzogl)
  • Ely Cathedral (by T. Tertius Noble)
  • Ewing (by Alexander C. Ewing)
  • Far Off Lands (melody of the Bohemian Brethren)
  • Freut euch ihr lieben (by Leonhart Schröter)
  • Geduld die soll'n wir haben (from Geistliche Lieder)
  • Gott soll gepreisen (from Mohr's Psalterlein)
  • Greenland (by Johann Michael Haydn)
  • Homeland (by Arthur S. Sullivan)
  • Ich dank' dir liebe Herre (from Musika Deutsch)
  • Kings Lynn (English tune, harmonized by R. Vaughan Williams)
  • Lancashire (by Henry Smart)
  • Light (from The Christian Lyre)
  • Llanfyllin (traditional Welsh melody)
  • Meirionydd (by William Lloyd)
  • Mendebras (by Lowell Mason)
  • Missionary Hymn (by Lowell Mason)
  • Munich (from Meiningen Gesangbuch)
  • Nyland (traditional Finnish melody)
  • Oslo (traditional Norwegian melody)
  • Pæan (by Frederic Weber)
  • Passion Chorale -or- Herzlich tut mich verlangen (by Hans Leo Hassler)
  • Pearsall (by Robert L. Pearsall)
  • Prætorius (by Michael Prætorius)
  • Saint Christopher (by Frederick C. Maker)
  • Saint Theodulph -or- Valet will ich der geben (by Melchior Teschner)
  • Watermouth (by Arthur Henry Mann)
  • Webb (by George J. Webb)
  • Wedlock (from The Sacred Harp)
  • Wie soll ich dich (by Johann Crüger)
  • Woodbird (traditional German melody)
  • Zoan (by William H. Havergal)

There are four stanzas of this hymn. Stanza 1 starts the hymn — variants exist for the first line, for example, "By all Thy Saints still striving." Stanzas 3 & 4 form a suitable closing [and these three stanzas can be used alone as a general text].

  1. From all Thy Saints in warfare, for all Thy Saints at rest,
    To Thee, O blessèd Jesu, all praises be address'd:
    Thou, Lord, didst win the battle that they might conquerors be;
    Their crowns of living glory are lit with rays from Thee.
  2. Insert Stanza 2 here.
  3. Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs, and all the sacred throng
    Who wear the spotless raiment, who raise the ceaseless song;
    For these, pass'd on before us, Savior, we Thee adore,
    And, walking in their footsteps, would serve Thee more and more.
  4. Then praise we God the Father, and praise we God the Son,
    And God the Holy Spirit, Eternal Three in One;
    Till all the ransom'd number fall down before the Throne,
    And honour, power, and glory ascribe to God alone.

Stanza 2 is chosen from these:


Saint Matthew

  1. Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel Thy human life declared,
    Who, worldly gains forsaking, Thy path of suffering shared.
    From all unrighteous mammon, O give us hearts set free,
    That we, what'er our calling, may rise and follow Thee.

Saint Mark

  1. For him, O Lord, we praise Thee, the weak by grace made strong,
    Whose labours and whose Gospel enrich our triumph-song.
    May we in all our weakness find strength from Thee supplied,
    And all, as fruitful branches, in Thee, the Vine, abide.

Saint Luke

  1. For that "Beloved Physician," all praise! whose Gospel shows
    The Healer of the nations, the Sharer of our woes.
    Thy wine and oil, O Savior, on bruised hearts deign to pour,
    And with true Balm of Gilead, anoint us evermore.

Saint John

  1. Praise for the loved Disciple, exile on Patmos' shore;
    Praise for the faithful record he to Thy Godhead bore.
    Praise for the mystic vision, through him to us reveal'd;
    May we, in patience waiting, with Thine elect be seal'd.


Saint Peter

  1. Praise for Thy great Apostle, the eager and the bold;
    Thrice falling, yet repentant, thrice charged to feed Thy fold.
    Lord, make Thy pastors faithful, to guard their flocks from ill;
    And grant them dauntless courage with humble, earnest will.

Saint Andrew

  1. Praise, Lord, for Thine Apostle, the first to welcome Thee,
    The first to lead his brother the very Christ to see,
    With hearts for Thee made ready, watch we throughout the year,
    Forward to lead our brethren to own Thine Advent near.

Saint James the Greater

  1. For Him, O Lord, we praise Thee, who, slain by Herod's sword,
    Drank of Thy cup of suffering, fulfilling thus Thy word,
    Curb we all vain impatience to read Thy veil'd decree,
    And count it joy to suffer, if so brought nearer Thee.

Saint John

  1. Praise for the loved Disciple, exile on Patmos' shore;
    Praise for the faithful record he to Thy Godhead bore.
    Praise for the mystic vision, through him to us reveal'd;
    May we, in patience waiting, with Thine elect be sealed.

Saints Philip & James the Lesser

  1. All praise for Thine Apostle, bless'd guide to Greek and Jew,
    And him surnamed Thy brother; keep us thy brethren true.
    And grant the grace to know Thee, the Way, the Truth, the Life;
    To wrestle with temptations till victors in the strife.

Saint Bartholomew

  1. All praise for Thine Apostle, the faithful, pure, and true,
    Whom underneath the fig tree Thine eye all-seeing knew.
    Like him may we be guileless, true Israelites indeed;
    That Thine abiding Presence our longing souls may feed.

Saint Thomas

  1. All praise for Thine Apostle, whose short-lived doubtings prove
    Thy perfect two-fold nature, the fullness of Thy love.
    On all who wait Thy coming shed forth Thy peace, O Lord,
    And grant us faith to know Thee, true Man, true God, adored.

Saint Matthew

  1. Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel Thy human life declared,
    Who, worldly gains forsaking, Thy path of suff'ring shared.
    From all unrighteous mammon, O give us hearts set free,
    That we, what'er our calling, may rise and follow Thee.

Saints Simon & Jude

  1. Praise Lord, for Thine Apostles, who sealed their Faith today:
    One love, one zeal impelled them to tread the sacred way.
    May we with zeal as earnest the faith of Christ maintain,
    And, bound in love as brethren, at length Thy rest attain.

Saint Matthias

  1. Lord, Thine abiding Presence directs the wondrous choice:
    For one in place of Judas the faithful now rejoice.
    Thy Church from false Apostles for evermore defend,
    And, by thy parting promise, be with her to the end.

Saint Paul in His Conversion

  1. Praise for the light from Heaven, praise for the voice of awe,
    Praise for the glorious vision the persecutor saw.
    Thee, Lord, for his conversion, we glorify today:
    So lighten all our darkness with Thy true Spirit's ray.

Saint Barnabas

  1. The Son of Consolation, moved by Thy law of love,
    Forsaking earthly treasures, sought riches from above.
    As earth now teams with increase, let gifts of grace descend,
    That Thy true consolations may through the world extend.

Other Martyrs

Holy Innocents

  1. Praise for Thine infant Martyrs, by Thee with tend'rest love
    Called early from the warfare to share the rest above.
    O Rachel, cease thy weeping; they rest from pains and cares:
    Lord, grant us hearts as guileless, and crowns as bright as theirs.

Saint John the Baptist

  1. We praise Thee for the Baptist, Forerunner of the Word,
    Our true Elias, making a highway for the Lord.
    Of prophets last and greatest, he saw Thy dawning ray,
    Make us the rather blessèd, who love Thy glorious Day.

Saint Stephen

  1. Praise for the first of Martyrs, who saw Thee ready stand,
    To aid in midst of torment, to plead at God's right hand.
    Share, we with him, if summoned by death our Lord to own,
    On earth the faithful witness, in heav'n the martyr-crown.

So how can you use this hymn? Here are some ideas:

  1. As the Entrance Hymn for the parish Feast Day, using one of the more familiar hymn tunes above.
  2. As the Entrance Hymn for the Feast of these saints, using one of the more familiar hymn tunes above.
  3. As a communal opening for the Parish Festival.
  4. As an easy choir anthem, using a less familiar hymn tune. Look to organ preludes and free harmonizations for acccompaniment material.
  5. As a lead-in for each section of a concert based on the theme of Evangelists or Apostles.
  6. As a teaching tool or a project for the Youth Choir.
  7. As a short "invocation" at the end of Communion time on the Sunday before the saint's feast.
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