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Wednesday 25 November |
Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Hymn of the Week: 'Rejoice the Lord is King'

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 10/08/17

Performed here by the inimitable Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It’s our recessional this week.

The words: 

Rejoice, the Lord is king! Your Lord and king adore;

Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;

When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

The lyrics date from the 18th century, by Charles Wesley: 

Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns; as with most hymnists, his works were frequently altered. In the preface to the 1779 Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists, his brother John wrote:
I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honour to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome to do so, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them, for they are really not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them these two favours: either to let them stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men.
In addition to hymn writing, Charles & John founded the movement which became the Methodist denomination.

My Methodist-born mother—who undoubtedly grew up singing this hymn on many a Sunday at the church in Pitman, New Jersey—would probably be surprised and charmed to see this hymn becoming a part of the Catholic canon. It remains a thrilling and joyous piece of music.

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