“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” Henry David Thoreau
Throughout human history, there has always been the rise and fall of those who hunger and thirst for great power and authority. Kings and queens have come and gone, yet, as the Holy Scriptures state, God’s word remains forever. So it is with the story behind our hymn for today.
All glory, laud, and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel,
And David’s royal Son,
Now in the Lord’s name coming,
The King and Blessed One.
The company of angels,
Is praising Thee on high;
And we with all creation,
In chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews,
With palms before Thee went;
Our praise and prayer and anthems,
Before Thee we present.
To Thee before Your passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.
As Thou received their praises,
Accept the prayers we bring,
For Thou delights in goodness,
O good and gracious King!
The text for All Glory, Laud, and Honor was written by a church leader named Theodulf, who lived in very tumultuous times. It was the dawn of the Middle Ages, and Charlemagne (also known as Charles the Great) was sitting on the throne, uniting most of western Europe under his rule and reign. The first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne appointed Theodulf as Bishop of Orleans (a city in north-central France) in 798, where he went on to become fairly well known as a writer and poet. Theodulf is credited as being the author of the Libri Carolini, an interesting document that railed against some in church leadership who practiced the worship of man-made objects, making idols out of what were to be simple icons of the Christian faith. It appears that Theodulf had the ear of the emperor, but when Charlemagne died in 814, the power struggle was on. And, in what so many times happens, when men and women fight for power, some unfortunates end up backing the loser…and that’s exactly what happened to the poor bishop, Theodulf, who threw his fate in with Bernard of Italy versus backing the eventual winner, Louis, the King of the Franks, and only surviving adult son of Charlemagne!
In 817, the new emperor, now known as Louis the Pious, had Theodulf removed from his position of power and thrown into jail (818), placing him under house arrest at a monastery in Angers in western France. There, Theodulf did his best to continue his writings, and one year before his death in 821, this man of God who once held great power and position, but now was a nobody, penned these words in Latin:
Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit Rex Christe, Redemptor,
Cui puerile decus prompsit hosanna pium
As legend goes, it was on Palm Sunday in 820, as Louis the Pious joined with others for a celebrative procession through the streets of Angers, when the emperor heard Theodulf singing his newly-written chorus (based on Matthew 21:1-11) from his jail cell. Apparently King Louis was so impressed; he released Theodulf from prison, and decreed that the hymn (and the thirty-eight other Latin cuplets written for this hymn) be sung on Palm Sunday across the kingdom! History shows us Theodulf’s hymn found great favor with church leaders, although manuscripts dating back to the late ninth-century indicate that later generations of worshippers were singing only the first twelve lines of the song!
In the mid-1800’s, hymn writer and hymnal publisher, John Mason Neale, translated those first twelve lines of Theodulf’s hymn into English, fitting them into three verses, and from that point forward, generation after generation of Christians have sung this ancient hymn, with its references to Jesus’ Holy Week entry in Jerusalem, particularly on Palm Sunday in celebrations held world-wide!
My prayer: Regardless, Father, of all the politics and positioning of mankind, You and Your Son, Jesus are on the throne forever and ever. I give You all the Glory, Laud & Honor. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what politics and power-positioning am I getting myself involved in today? In what ways can I step out of that fray and join in the chorus of celebrating the true King of Kings…Jesus of Nazareth?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together 30 Great Hymns of Faith?
Between now and Easter 2016, we will be sharing with you this blog series we call Thirty Great Hymns of Faith. In order to keep all 34 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Thirty Great Hymns of Faith home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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