ancientandmodern: stone statue of St Cecilia (Default)
[personal profile] ancientandmodern
Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and gray,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!


Hills of the North, rejoice,
Echoing songs arise,
Hail with united voice
Him who made earth and skies:
He comes in righteousness and love,
He brings salvation from above.

Isles of the Southern seas,
Sing to the listening earth,
Carry on every breeze
Hope of a world's new birth:
In Christ shall all be made anew,
His word is sure, his promise true.

Lands of the East, arise,
He is your brightest morn,
Greet him with joyous eyes,
Praise shall his path adorn:
The God whom you have longed to know
In Christ draws near, and calls you now.

Shores of the utmost West,
Lands of the setting sun,
Welcome the heavenly guest
In whom the dawn has come:
He brings a never-ending light
Who triumphed o'er our darkest night.

Shout, as you journey on,
Songs be in every mouth,
Lo, from the North they come,
From East and West and South:
In Jesus all shall find their rest,
In him the sons of earth be blest.

I learned a very important lesson from this hymn: the right words are the ones that were in your school hymnbook, and any other words are dead wrong. And, with this particular hymn, the argument has been going on ever since the publication of the English Hymnal. That is nearly a century, and far too long to argue about anything. I have since given up angsting about the right words, and changing them, (well, apart from the switched verse in O Little Town of Bethlehem in Hymns Old and New, because what on earth is the point of doing that?) because life is too short, and nobody is ever going to be happy.

Anyway, I never actually sang Hills of the North at school, but I did sing it in church, and the version I know is the one I've quoted second - the English Hymnal one. Quite possibly there are more than these two versions; I've certainly come across mutant combinations of the two. I shall talk mainly about that one, therefore.

The structure is identical in both: a verse each for north, south, east and west, and then the whole world together. Similarly, the geographical features chosen to represent each quarter of the globe are the same - and certain ideas traditionally associated with those areas, for example, the east as the land of the rising sun. The emphasis varies, however; on the whole, the Ancient and Modern version is more gloomy and discontented, while the English Hymnal tends more towards joyous expectation. I prefer it - but then I would, wouldn't I?

All that aside, I've always been vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of universal conversion that this hymn seems to me to advocate. But then I love the last verse - in either version - with the crowds of people hurrying towards one central point. This is probably because pilgrimage is a fantastically important image in my life, while mission - at least not in the nineteenth century sense - feels embarrassing at best. We still had it at our wedding, though. It's not so much where you're coming from, as where you're going.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-05 12:26 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
I have pretty much the same reaction as you: love the pilgrimage imagery, dislike the missional aspects, and overall prefer the EH version. Sadly, though, our parish uses Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New, which basically follows the A&M version. "Unvisited, unblest" is the worst line in either version for the universal conversion thing, and I'd rather not have to sing it. OTOH, the A&M does a better job of conveying the contrast between the world-as-it-is and the world-as-it-will-be, and the references to bondage, judgment etc arguably make it a better fit for the traditional Advent sermons on the Four Last Things.

Nuances of language

Date: 2016-11-25 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] binklet
"unvisited, unblest" must be understood in the context of the whole sentence - that the west was late to recieve the good news of the gospel. The verse is inviting Western Christians, so those who have had less centuries of knowledge of Christ, to join the song declaring Christ crucified and raised to life.
The final verse is more inclusive in the original version where we are all journeying to the same place together to live and reign in victory. In the modern version the language assumes a patronising external view that we (who are singing) have arrived already and "they" are journeying to join us.


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