227. Christ, Who Is in the Form of God
st. 1 = Phil. 2:6-7
st. 2 = Phil. 2:8
st. 3 = Phil. 2:9
st. 4 = Phil. 2:10-11
Several songs have been composed on the poetic passage from Philippians 2:6-11; in addition to this setting of the biblical text, a hymn is at 467: "At the Name of Jesus," and a chorus setting is at 633: "He Is Lord." Some commentators suggest that Paul is quoting here from an early Christian hymn. A marvelous profession of faith, this creedal statement lays out the Christian beliefs about the Savior's humiliation and exaltation: though fully God, Christ "emptied himself' to become human and to take up our death, and therefore God exalted him so that everyone will "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." The context makes clear that Christ's attitude is to be our model for Christian living.
David T. Koyzis (b. Oak Park, IL, 1955) paraphrased this Scripture passage in 1984 in South Bend, Indiana. The text is first published in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal. Koyzis's interest in poetry, hymnody, and psalmody was nurtured at an early age. His father wrote poems in both Greek and English, many of which were published in English- and Greek-language periodicals on the island of Cyprus, his place of birth. Koyzis has written a number of hymn texts and tunes as well as Scripture versifications, some of which are published in Songs of Rejoicing (1989). He studied at Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, Canada; in 1986 he received a Ph.D. degree from Notre Dame University. Since 1987 he has taught political science at Redeemer College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada.
Christmas; Lent; Ascension; also as a sung confession of faith (an alternate to the Apostles' or Nicene Creed); “Worthy Is Christ” (629) provides a suitable frame for this song.
--psalter Hymnal Handbook
Little is known about the composer of BISHOP, Joseph P. Holbrook (b. near Boston, MA, 1822; d. U.S.A., 1888); he did serve as editor of several hymn collections, including Songs of the Church (1862) and Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church with Tunes (1878), to which he contributed a number of his own tunes.
Holbrook's tune BISHOP was first published in Duryea's The Presbyterian Hymnal (1874). No specific bishop has been identified in relation to the tune title. It is a serviceable tune with some dramatic flair in the second phrase that matches the text particularly well. Lines 1 and 3 are identical. BISHOP has the character of early Puritan psalm tunes; the humility of this melody helps one focus on the song text. It is ideally sung in harmony and in its entirety: all the stanzas belong together, and stanza 3 continues into stanza 4. Though the music consists of four lines, the textual units usually cover two; try to sing in two long lines, feeling two beats per bar, so that the textual lines prevail.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook