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298. According to Thy Gracious Word

1 According to thy gracious word,
in meek humility
this will I do, my loving Lord:
I will remember thee.

2 Thy body, given for my sake,
my bread from heaven shall be;
thy testamental cup I take,
and thus remember thee.

3 Gethsemane can I forget,
or there thy conflict see,
thine agony and bloody sweat,
and not remember thee?

4 When to the cross I turn mine eyes
and rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
I must remember thee.

5 And when these failing lips grow dumb,
and mind and memory flee,
when thou shalt in thy kingdom come,
then, Lord, remember me.

Text Information
First Line: According to thy gracious word
Title: According to Thy Gracious Word
Original Language: English
Author: James Montgomery (1825)
Meter: CM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Calvary; Biblical Names & Places: Gethsemane; Lord's Supper
Tune Information
Composer: William Tans'ur (1734)
Meter: CM
Key: c minor

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Luke 22:19
st. 2 = 1 Cor. 11:24-25
st. 3 = Matt. 26:36-39, Luke 22:44
st. 4 = Isa. 53:6-7, John 1:29
st. 5 = Luke 23:42

One of the best-loved hymns of James Montgomery (PHH 72), "According to Thy Gracious Word" was published in six stanzas in The Christian Psalmist (1825) under the subtitle 'This do in remembrance of me," Jesus' words from Luke 22: 19. The Psalter Hymnal omits the original stanza 5.

Reflective and meditative, the text focuses on the memorial aspect of the Lord's Supper–each stanza concludes with the word remember. Our memory of Jesus can be taken two ways, of course: in the active sense, as in ancient liturgies and in the Reformation teachings of John Calvin; or in the passive sense, as in liturgies espoused by Ulrich Zwingli. Montgomery underlined "I will remember thee" in his manuscript, possibly indicating that he intended to promote the classic, active sense of anamnesis. (This untranslatable Greek word refers to the active way in which Christ is present with us in the Lord's Supper.) The text is strong and effective because of its biblical quotations and allusions (see Scripture references).

Liturgical Use:
During the Lord's Supper as a meditative hymn; Lent; Holy Week; also makes a fine Passion hymn (without st. 2).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Traditionally used for Montgomery's text and for Peter Abelard's "Alone Thou Goest Forth, O Lord," BANGOR comes from William Tans'ur's A Compleat Melody: or the Harmony of Syon (the preface of which is dated 1734). In that collection the tune was a three-part setting for Psalm 12 (and for Psalm 11 in a 1738 reprint). Possibly alluding to an earlier origin, the tune title recalls the Welsh borough and city Bangor. The tune was popular in Scotland: Robert Burns refers to it in his poem 'The Ordination": "an' skirl up the Bangor."

BANGOR is a solemn but expressive tune, though not mournful. It is sturdy and supportive of the classic anamnesis interpretation of Montgomery's text. Sing in harmony on stanzas 1 through 4, and sing in unison on stanza 5–or try singing the first three phrases in harmony and the fourth in unison to highlight the important concluding phrase in each stanza.

Tans'ur (originally Tanzer; b. Dunchurch, Warwickshire, England, 1706; d. St. Neots, Huntingdonshire, England, 1783) was an itinerant music teacher and song leader who served as occasional organist in churches in Barnes, Ewell, Cambridge, Stamford, and Boston (England). Later he lived in St. Neots, where he was a bookseller and music teacher. He published numerous pedagogical works on music as well as psalm books, including A Compleat Melody: or Harmony of Syon (1734), The Psalm Singer's Jewel (1760), and Melodia Sacra (1771); many of his books were reprinted numerous times. It is not always clear which tunes in these collections Tans'ur composed himself or which he adapted from other sources. A selection from his tunebooks was published in the United States as The American Harmony (1771), a book that influenced William Billings in his composing of psalm tunes.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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