This great hymn was sung at the end of President George H. W. Bush’s funeral this morning. Written by Anglican priest William Walsham How in 1864, I’m always drawn to how it gets the sentiments of a Christian funeral so right.
(The typical hymn tune setting SINE NOMINE by Ralph Vaughan Williams doesn’t hurt anything, either, though I do remember struggling mightily to play it unrehearsed as a teenaged church pianist.)
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who Thee by faith before the world confessed;
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
But when there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on His way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
in praise of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.