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Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

This text is a paraphrase of the Bible’s famous chapter on love (1 Cor. 13). After discussing various spiritual gifts and their use in the Christian community (1 Cor. 12), the apostle Paul turns to describe “the most excellent way”- the way of love. The stanzas follow the Corinthians text; the last line is a prayer. 


Sing! A New Creation


Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels

Tune Information

E♭ Major


Musical Suggestion

Consider the following options for singing this song that is based on 1 Corinthians 13:
  • Sing as a congregational hymn.
  • Have a soloist sing, with everyone joining on the last phrase of stanzas 2-4.
  • Have two soloists sing, with one singing descant on last stanza.
  • Add a solo instrument on the prelude, interlude, and soprano part on stanza 4.
 Roy Hopp, the composer, has an anthem of this song available from Selah Publishing, Co., Inc., #425-812. 
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 56)
— Bert Polman

Constructed with several sequential repetitions of melodic units, this music is intended for unison singing, with everyone in harmony on the refrain line. Accompany with organ or piano at a moderate tempo. To introduce this, have either choir or soloist(s) sing the stanzas with all joining on the final line each time. 

Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels

Hymn Story/Background

Timothy Dudley-Smith wrote this paraphrase of the famous passage on love from 1 Corinthians 13 in 1984 and set to the tune BRIDEGROOM by Peter Cutts at the request of Robert Batastini, who was at the time preparing Worship III (GIA Publications, Inc., 1986), where it was first published in the United States. In 1988, Roy Hopp composed a new tune for it, which was first published in The Roy Hopp Hymnary (Selah Publications, 1990), a collection of 35 of his tunes. The combination was subsequently expanded and published as an anthem by Selah Publishing Co. 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Educated at Pembroke College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926) has served the Church of England since his ordination in 1950. He has occupied a number of church posi­tions, including parish priest in the diocese of Southwark (1953-1962), archdeacon of Norwich (1973-1981), and bishop of Thetford, Norfolk, from 1981 until his retirement in 1992. He also edited a Christian magazine, Crusade, which was founded after Billy Graham's 1955 London crusade. Dudley-Smith began writing comic verse while a student at Cambridge; he did not begin to write hymns until the 1960s. Many of his several hundred hymn texts have been collected in Lift Every Heart: Collected Hymns 1961-1983 (1984), Songs of Deliverance: Thirty-six New Hymns (1988), and A Voice of Singing (1993). The writer of Christian Literature and the Church (1963), Someone Who Beckons (1978), and Praying with the English Hymn Writers (1989), Dudley-Smith has also served on various editorial committees, including the committee that published Psalm Praise (1973).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Roy Hopp (b. 1951) is the Director of Music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI and Adjunct Professor of Choral Music at Calvin Theological Seminary, where he directs the Calvin Theological Seminary Choir.
Hopp graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and from Michigan State University with a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting. He did further studies in church music and composition with Richard Hillert at Concordia University in River Forest, IL. He has served as a Director of Music in churches in West Michigan and Colorado for the past twenty years.
His choral compositions have appeared in the catalogues of AugsburgFortress, earthsongs, GIA Publications, Inc., Kjos, MorningStar, and Selah and his hymn tunes have been published in hymnals and collections in the United States, Canada, England, Wales and Scotland.
— Emily Brink
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