Thursday, March 06, 2014

Lent 2014


When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people,
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they;
let them not pass like weeds away
Their heritage a sunless day
God save the people

Shall crime bring crime forever,
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it thy will, O Father,
that men shall toil for wrong?
No, say thy mountains; No, say thy skies;
man's clouded sun shall brightly rise,
and songs be heard, instead of sighs,
God save the people!

When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people!
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
God save the people; thine they are,
thy children as thy angels fair;
from vice, oppression and despair,
God save the people!

Words: Ebenezer Elliott, 1850

So, ntodd put me onto this, by posting the Broadway cast album version (my favorite, still).  From there I went looking for the original words, which I found I'd posted before.  You can go there (in the comments), or here, to read the actual original version, which was a poem that became the hymn, above.  In looking for the words, I also found this fascinating bit of history:

[TO THR EDITOR OP THE "SPECTATOR.") will have been amusing to many to read in the Spectator of November 14th of the " revival " of Ebenezer Elliott's "When wilt Thou save the people F" as occurring "the other day." That rhyme has been one of the most popular iterns at P.S.A. and kindred assemblies for at least a dozen years past. It appears as No. 1 in Mr. Howard Kennedy's" Sunday Afternoon Song-book," published in 1892, but its revival is due to its inclusion in the hymnal of the Congregationalists, and the appropriate tune there wedded to it by Mr. Josiah Booth some sixteen years ago. Immediately on the appear- ance of the first edition of the hymnal the song was caught up, and has been sung with enthusiasm all over the country almost ad nauseam ever since. Curiously enough, during the greater part of this period of sixteen years the Government has been Conservative. After all, Sir, is there any ground for the " anxiety " to which you refer? Cannot even the most old-fashioned Conservative pray in the lines which may be called the summing-up of the whole— "Prom vice, oppression, and despair,

God save the people?"

Permit me to point out three clerical slips in your quotation. In the first line " Thy " should read " the "; in the second "Mercies" should read " mercy "; and in the fifth" breath" should be " heart."—I am, Sir, &c., CHARLES T. PRICE.

Rock House, Ash Field, Ross.

[Ebenezer Elliott's fine poem is, per se, as worthy of hick, sion in a hymn-book as Mr. Kipling's "Recessional " ; but when it was sung at political meetings in the "forties" it was certainly meant and regarded as a song of revolution.---:ED. Spectator.]
I quote the whole because it mentions the Congregationalists, my ecclesiastical ancestors in the UCC, and because of the final reference to this "as a song of revolution."  Makes it even more appropriate to the early days of Lent.

*And if you don't turn up your speakers as loud as you can for this:  you have no soul.

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