Hymn of the Month

Easter: This Joyful Eastertide

While most of us know many Christmas carols, we may be less familiar with carols for other times of the year. One of the finest Easter carols is "This Joyful Eastertide." The tune, which originated in a seventeenth-century Dutch love song, came into church use in Joachim Oudaen's David's Psalmen (1685) as the melody for "Hoe Grootde Vreuchten Zijn" ("How Great the Fruits Are")—hence, the tune title VRUCHTEN.

The British clergyman George Woodward (1848-1934) wrote the stanzas of "This Joyful Eastertide" and included both his text and the older Dutch tune in the Cowley Carol Book for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension Tide (1902 edition). Since that time this carol—with various harmonizations and occasionally even with alternate words—has appeared in most modern hymnals (e.g., Rejoice in the Lord #329, Hymns For Youth #90).

The tune is distinguished by the rising sequences in the refrain, providing a fitting word-painting for "arisen." Though the melody has a wide range, it becomes a fine congregational tune when sung in Eb. The text and tune together provide a beautiful way to express the joy of Christ's Easter victory over sin and death.

"This Joyful Eastertide" is appropriate for any Sunday of the Easter season and may well be used for several successive Sundays. You may want to try the following sequence with your congregation:

1st Sunday: Sing this carol as a choral anthem straight from your hymnal or in a choral arrangement (e.g., for SATB by William Harris, Novello #1367, or for 2-3 voice parts with optional instruments by Donald Ro-termund, Augsburg #11-1930).

2nd Sunday: Sing the song as a congregational carol but add the string accompaniment (available from CRC Publications, see page 36), arranged for the recording Lift High the Cross.

3rd Sunday: Sing the carol as a concertato for congregation, choir, and instruments (e.g., the concertato by S. Drummond Wolff, which includes 2 trumpets; Concordia #98-2221).

Ascension: Psalm 47

Psalm 47 focuses on God's enthronement as Lord of all the earth, as ruler over all peoples. Associated with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles and Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Psalm 47 is appropriate to the celebration of Christ's ascension: "God has ascended amid shouts of joy" (Ps. 47:5). The spritely tune used in this issue comes from Calvin's Geneva (Shakespeare called such tunes Genevan "jigs") and is the work of Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510— after 1561); the melody was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter.

In the center of this issue of Reformed Worship you will find a concertato setting of Psalm 47, composed by Valerie Stegink Sterk for the third Composers Workshop (1983), held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Two texts are provided: one is paraphrased by Marie Post from Rejoice in the Lord (note the altered rhythms in Rejoice #103), and the other is taken from the new Psalter Hymnal. This arrangement includes two harmonizations by Claude Goudimel (c. 1510-1572) and permits a variety of performance possibilities.

Though the syncopation in the tune may surprise some members of your congregation, the pattern is consistent for each phrase of the melody. Sing this song at a medium-fast tempo, corporating hand clapping (in addition to the tambourine!) at every half note.

Pentecost: For Your Gift of God the Spirit

"For Your Gift of God the Spirit," one of the best modern hymn texts about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is useful on Pentecost Sunday and many other occasions. Its tune, BLAEN-WERN, was written by the Welsh schoolmaster William P. Rowlands (1860-1937) during the Welsh revival of 1904-05; it gained its current popularity after World War II when it was used in Billy Graham crusades for "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."

The text is from the competent hand of Edith Margaret Clarkson (b. 1915), a retired Canadian schoolteacher. She wrote these words in 1976 for use by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. The various stanzas read like a doctrinal study about the Holy Spirit and were inspired by a number of biblical texts about the work of the Spirit in creation, the church, and our personal lives.

This splendid example of To order additional copies of "sung theology" is made the more memorable by the sturdy tune that invites festive treatment for a final stanza. REFORMED WORSHIP offers you a descant and alternate harmonization by Kenneth Sweetman, initially composed for the recording Lift High the Cross (available from CRC Publications).

Bert Polman is a professor of music at Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario, and a member of Immanuel CRC in Hamilton, Ontario.


To order additional copies of "Psalm for Ascension," the hymn concertato on Psalm 47 inserted in this issue of Reformed Worship, or "This Joyful Eastertide," the string arrangement excerpted with this article, please return a copy of the following order form. Include payment and we'll pay the shipping charges.

___(241047) Psalm for Ascension— Concertato ($1.00 US / $1.30 CDN)

___(243700) This Joyful Eastertide-Full score for strings and organ ($5.95 US / $7.75 CDN). Includes permission to photocopy individual string parts.

Total amount enclosed $_______
Phone ________________________

Please return to: CRC Publications, 2850 Kalamazoo SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560. In Canada: P.O. Box 5070, Burlington, ON L7R 3Y8.

Bert Polman was a hymnologist, professor and chair of the music department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He passed away in July 2013. 

Reformed Worship 3 © March 1987, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.