69 - We Who Live by Sound and Symbol

Tune: Chartres


Okay, this hymn needs help. I wish Saint George Black were still alive so I could ask him why he paired this text and tune. The text is really terrific, and to my taste it is particularly appropriate for Anglican worship, where we cherish symbol and mystery. However, the music is a French Christmas carol, Bel astre que j'adore, and it feels very weird to take a well-known Christmas melody and put other words to it. (After all, you can sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" to the tune of "Joy to the World", but it wouldn't really make for a big hit.) Also, the music is gloomy and minor, not really a great fit for such a good text.

I love singing this hymn text to the tune Abbots Leigh (#428), music whose strength and beauty suits the text perfectly. Check it out: