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Hymn of the Week: ‘On Jordan’s Bank’

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This arrangement, by Malcom Archer, is my favorite for this particular hymn—building verse by verse to a triumphant conclusion.

It’s typically sung during Advent but, with the Gospel this weekend featuring John the Baptist on Jordan’s bank—and Christ passing by— our choir will be doing this one for the communion hymn.

The hymn itself dates to the 18th century, and is featured prominently in both Protestant and Catholic hymnals. Taken from the original chant, Jordanis oras praevia, it was adapted by Charles Coffin (d.1749), and translated by John Chandler (d.1876).

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake and hearken, for He brings
Glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be ev’ry heart from sin;
Make straight the way of God within;
Oh, let us all our hearts prepare
For Christ to come and enter there.

To heal the sick stretch out Thine hand,
And bid the fallen sinner stand;
Shine forth, and let Thy light restore
Earth’s own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
Whose advent sets Thy people free;
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forever more.

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