222. If I Speak a Foreign Tongue

Text Information
First Line: If I speak a foreign tongue
Title: If I Speak a Foreign Tongue
Versifier: Bert Polman (1986)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 77 75
Topic: Love: Our Love for Others; Songs for Children: Bible Songs; Walk with God
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Composer: Friedrich Filitz (1847)
Meter: 77 75
Key: D Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Cor. 13:1
st. 2 = 1 Cor. 13:2
st. 3 = 1 Cor. 13:3
st. 4 = 1 Cor. 13:4
st. 5 = 1 Cor. 13:8, 13

"If I Speak" is a paraphrase of the Bible's famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13. After discussing various spiritual gifts and their use in the Christian community (chap. 12), the apostle Paul turns to describe "the most excellent way"–the way of love. Love is the most profound fruit of the Holy Spirit, and it should characterize every facet of the Christian life. Using metaphor, hyperbole, and both positive and negative description, Paul describes this kind of agape love in a succinct and beautiful chapter.

Bert Polman (PHH 37) paraphrased parts of the chapter for a Pentecost hymn festival at Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Rexdale, Ontario, in 1986. Polman began by revising Christopher Wordsworth's hymn on the same text, "Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost," published in Wordsworth's The Holy Year (1862), but ended up with this new paraphrase.

Liturgical Use:
Any worship service focusing on God's command to love one another, the communion of saints, or spiritual gifts and their exercise; weddings or other family services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

CAPETOWN was originally composed by Friedrich Filitz (b. Arnstadt, Thuringia, Germany, 1804; d. Munich, Germany, 1876) as a setting for the text "Morgenglanz der Ewigkeit"; that text and tune were included in Vierstimmiges Choralbuch (1847), a hymnal compiled by Baron Christian von Bunsen and published by Filitz. After earning a doctorate of philosophy, Filitz became active in music editing and publishing in Berlin, where he lived from 1843 to 1847, and in Munich, where he lived from 1848 to 1876. He also published a collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century hymns, Vierstimmige Choralsätze ( 1845) .

CAPETOWN was soon published in England; Peter Maurice arranged it for publication in his Choral Harmony (1854) as a setting for Reginald Heber's litany "Lord of Mercy and of Might." CAPETOWN is presumably named after the legislative capital of South Africa. It is a simple but elegant tune in an unusual meter. Sing stanzas 1 through 4 in parts, reserving stanza 5 for a stately unison finale with an additional bright stop on the organ. This tune needs to move on a half-note pulse and slightly slower on stanza 5.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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