Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday morning I went to church, like a lot of people do. But I went to church by tram, which means it clearly wasn’t in Harold Wood! Actually I went to church in Brno,where I was visiting family for a couple of days. The church was the Bethlehem Church of the Czech Brethern, who are a protestant denomination with Lutheran and Presbyterian/Reformed anticedents.

Thine be the Glory

What I want to talk about is the hymn which started and ended the service. In English it is called “Thine be the Glory”. When we sing it in church in England, the tune seems strangely familiar – it is from Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabeus”, and dates from the 1740s. The words of the hymn were written, in French, by a Swiss pastor in the 1890s. I got home on Easter Sunday evening to Harold Wood.
I was next able to go to my home church in Emerson Park two weeks later. There was a question of substituting one of the hymns on the order of service. The organist said “Please not ‘Thine be the Glory'” It had been sung both on Easter Sunday and the following Sunday!
I like the idea of singing that hymn a thousand miles away, at almost the same time as my home church was singing it. It is a metaphor for how European history and culture are intertwined, that I should be singing, in Czech, a hymn written in French, with a tune by a German long domiciled in England.

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