218. In the Beginning Was the Word Eternal

Text Information
First Line: In the beginning was the Word eternal
Title: In the Beginning Was the Word Eternal
Versifier: Bert Polman (1985)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 11 10 11 10
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Moses; Songs for Children: Bible Songs; Christmas (2 more...)
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Arranger: Francesca Leftley (1983)
Meter: 11 10 11 10
Key: d minor
Copyright: © Kevin Mayhew, Ltd. Used by permission

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = John 1:1-1
st. 2 = John 1:5, 9-11
st. 3 = John 1:12-13
st. 4= John 1:14, 17-18

In the prologue to his gospel account, John declares explicitly that Christ has been with God and is God from time eternal, and that Christ has been at work in creation and re-creation making known the true God. This profound passage is filled with theologically rich terms such as "Word," "light," "became flesh," and "full of grace and truth." "In the Beginning" is a setting of John 1:1-5, 9-14, 17-18, covering most of John's prologue.

Bert Polman (PHH 37) versified these passages in 1985 for use by Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Rexdale, Ontario, where he was organist at the time. The versification is unrhymed in order to include many direct quotations from John 1.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; Christmas; Epiphany; a sung confession of faith as an alternate to the Apostles' or Nicene Creed.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Polman wrote the text with the Israeli folk tune LINDESFARNE in mind. The tune was published in its current arrangement in the Oxford children's hymnal Their Words My Thoughts (1983). A charming tune in minor tonality, LINDESFARNE features a striking climax at the end of the second line that creates an effective melodic contour for the entire tune. It is intended for unison singing with accompaniment by keyboard or a variety of instruments; the tempo should be solid and majestic.

The tune was arranged by Francesca Leftley (b. Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, 1955), who presumably named the tune for the English island famous for its religious history and its castle; Lindesfarne, also known as Holy Island, is located in the North Sea off England's Northumberland coast and south of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Leftley graduated from Digby Stuart College of Education, London, England, with a degree in music education. She has directed choirs and orchestras and has been active in church music at the local parish level. Her many songs have been published in a number of collections. Leftley was also involved in revising and composing new works for the Veritas Religious Education Syllabus used by Roman Catholic schools in Great Britain and Ireland.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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