Easter is an opportunity to show the best musicianship that your church or chapel can offer – a chance to really pull out all the stops. A stirring example comes with the hymn ‘The Day of Resurrection’, sung to the tune ELLACOMBE.
Its author, John Mason Neale (1818-66) was educated at Sherborne School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he aligned himself with the Oxford Movement and formed the Camden Society, encouraging more ritualistic practices within Anglican worship. He became vicar of Crawley, West Sussex, in 1841, but his career as a clergyman was constantly marred by those opposed to his high church principles. His bishop forced Neale out in 1846 and he became Warden of Sackville College, an East Grinstead almshouse. He continued to be dogged by allegations of Catholic sympathy, and was more than once physically assaulted for it. Yet his relatively quiet life at Sackville College allowed him to indulge in private study, and the writing of several well-known translations of Latin and Greek devotional texts, may of which are sung and enjoyed as hymns today.
The tune ELLACOMBE can be traced back to a chapel hymn book produced for the Duke of Würtemberg in 1784. It was subsequently adapted into several versions until reaching its definitive form in the appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1868, which makes today’s tune 150 years old this year. The harmony is simple and direct, varying only in the third line; a good opportunity for organists’ fun with secondary dominants and brassy minor sevenths to add colour. Despite its high register in the said line it remains eminently singable, with a deceptively narrow range of just over an octave.
Listen to the hymn here.
For more about John Mason Neale see post Christ is made the sure foundation
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