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May Jesus Christ Be Praised

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      Author --German Hymn from the 18th century
      English Translation --Edward Caswall, 1814-1878
      Composer --Joseph Bamby, 1838-1896
      Tune Name --"Laudes Domini"

      "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1

      One of the important sources of English hymnody is the wealth of worthy hymns translated from earlier Greek, Latin and German sources during the mid-nineteenth century. This particular interest by many English writers in the hymns from these other cultures was largely a part of a movement within the Anglican Church known as the Oxford Movement. The rediscovery of the writings of the Middle Ages became especially important during this time. Another important emphasis of this movement was an attempt by these leaders to rejuvenate the Anglican Church by making it more "high church" and to re-establish the concept of the church as the true Apostolic Church ordained by Christ Himself. Much of this concern was a reaction to what was felt to be a looseness within the church that was caused by the Evangelical influence with its emphasis upon the individual and his need for a personal conversion experience.

      The Oxford Movement began in 1833 with a sermon by John Keble (author of "Sun of My Soul" (No. 851) entitled "National Apostasy." For several years this movement tenaciously directed religious England. During this time many of the leading Anglicans actually seceded to the Roman Church in their obsession with having a more liturgical and authoritative church.

      One of these leaders was Edward Caswall, one of the best-known scholars and translators of the earlier writings. He was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England in 1814. Later he graduated from the distinguished Oxford College and was ordained by the Anglican Church at the age of twenty-six. While at Oxford Caswall became deeply interested and involved in the Oxford Movement. After pastoring a parish church at Stratford for seven years, he resigned that charge and with his wife traveled to Rome, where they were both received into the full communion of the Roman Church. Three years later his wife died, and soon he became an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church. From this time until his death in 1878 Caswall made it his life's mission to faithfully translate the early hymns for the services of the Catholic Church. Another well-known hymn translated from the Latin is "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee" (No. 49).

      Nothing is known of the original writer of this text other than the fact that he was a German. The hymn first appeared in a German hymnal in 1828. Other writers also attempted English translations of this text, but Caswall's work in 1853 became the most widely used both in England and in the United States. Throughout his life Caswall kept adding new verses to this work until eventually this hymn included twenty-eight stanzas.

      The tune, entitled "Laudes Domini" ("Praises of the Lord"), was composed for this text in 1868 by one of England's noted composers of that era, Joseph Bamby. Bamby was born on August 12, 1838, in London, England. In addition to many other musical accomplishments, he edited five important hymnals. He was later knighted by Queen Victoria in 1892 in recognition of his many musical feats.

      Joseph Barnby is also the composer for the hymns "Now the Day Is Over" (No. 63), and "O Perfect Love" (101 More Hymn Stories, No. 69).

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