Alleluia, sing to Jesus

Alleluia, sing to Jesus!
his the sceptre, his the throne;
Alleluia, his the triumph,
his the victory alone:
hark, the songs of peaceful Sion
thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus out of every nation
hath redeemed us by his blood.

This communion hymn was written in 1866 by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), and first appeared in Altar Songs, Verses on the Holy Eucharist (1867), under the title ‘Redemption by the Precious Blood’. It was included in the Appendix (1868) to the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. Dix was the son of a Bristol surgeon. He became manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, and as a devout High Anglican he published four volumes of his own hymns, as well as translating Abyssinian hymns and offices of the Orthodox Church. The original hymn comprised five verses, with the first repeated at the end; four verses are more common today. In the nineteenth century, many ancient liturgies were rediscovered and used as an inspiration for the new Victorian hymns; this hymn imitates an ancient Alleluia.

Whilst certain biblical references point towards Ascensiontide (eg, verse 2 follows Mark 16:19 and Luke 24:49-53), this hymn is often used during the communion service at other times of the year. In verse 4, there is mention of Christ as the great High Priest (Hebrews chapters 3 to 9, and Revelation 5:9). Other biblical references include: verse 2, line 8 (Matthew 28:20); verse 3, lines 1-2 (John 6:32, 50-51, Revelation 4:6-11; verse 4, lines 5-6 (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Tune - Hyfrydol

Hyfrydol was written by Rowland Huw Prichard (1811-1887) and was first published in the composers’s Cyfaill y Cantorion (the Singer’s Companion) (1844) and in Griffith Robert’s Haleliwiah Drachefn (1855). The tune was first set to the words of this hymn in the English Hymnal (1906). Prichard was only twenty when he wrote this tune. He spent most of his life in Bala, and was well-known as a precentor with a fine voice. At the late age of 69 he moved to be a loom-tender’s assistant at the Welsh Flannel Manufacturing Company at Holywell, North Wales. A particular feature of this fine tune is the limitation in range of only a fifth, except for the final phrase which ranges to a sixth. The name means ‘Good cheer’.

Nigel Day
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 31st August 1997