Easter Hymns: How Shall I Sing That Majesty (Coe Fen)

 

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Back in 2012 I blogged about this hymn – having newly discovered it via a blog post by Patrick Comerford.  (Patrick Comerford later posted a much more detailed entry about this hymn here.)

This Easter, I decided to upgrade my Easter hymns playlist, and I treated myself to purchasing this hymn, choosing a version to the tune of Coe Fen, sung by Wells Cathedral Choir, from a 1999 album The English Hymn, Vol. 1 – Christ Triumphant.

Below I’ve posted a pretty good recording of this on YouTube (apologies that there is an ad)

Christ’s Hospital School singing ‘How Shall I Sing That Majesty’ to the tune of Coe Fen by Ken Naylor (CH 1980-86). It was recorded for BBC Radio 2’s Sunday Half Hour.

I much prefer the Wells Cathedral Choir version, however.

Lyrics:

1 How shall I sing that majesty
which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
thy throne, O God most high;
ten thousand times ten thousand sound
thy praise; but who am I?

2 Thy brightness unto them appears,
while I thy footsteps trace;
a sound of God comes to my ears,
but they behold thy face.
They sing, because thou art their Sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
for where heav’n is but once begun,
there alleluias be.

3 Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
inflame it with love’s fire;
then shall I sing and bear a part
with that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
with all my fire and light;
yet when thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.

4 How great a being, Lord, is thine,
which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
to sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
a sun without a sphere;
thy time is now and evermore,
thy place is everywhere.

Learn more about this great hymn and find resources (arrangements, handbell scores, etc.) at Hymnary.org.

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