316. God Be with You Till We Meet Again

1 God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you:
God be with you till we meet again.

2 God be with you till we meet again;
'neath his wings protecting hide you,
daily manna still provide you:
God be with you till we meet again.

3 God be with you till we meet again;
when life's perils thick confound you,
put his arm unfailing round you:
God be with you till we meet again.

4 God be with you till we meet again;
keep love's banner floating o'er you,
smite death's threatening wave before you:
God be with you till we meet again.

Text Information
First Line: God be with you till we meet again
Title: God Be with You Till We Meet Again
Author: Jeremiah E. Rankin (1880)
Meter: 98 89
Language: English
Publication Date: 1982
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Songs for Children: Hymns; Close of Worship; Pilgrimage & Conflct (1 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1906)
Meter: 98 89
Key: D Major
Copyright: By permission of Oxford University Press.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Acts 20:32
st. 3 = Deut. 33:27
st. 4 = Songs of Songs 2:4

Jeremiah E. Rankin (b. Thornton, NH, 1828; d. Cleveland, OH, 1904) says of his hymn text,

It was written as a Christian good-bye; it was called forth by no person or occasion, but was deliberately com¬posed as a Christian hymn on the basis of the etymology of "good-bye," which means "God be with you." The first stanza was sent to two different composers, one of musical note, the other [William G. Tomer] wholly unknown and not thoroughly educated in music. I selected the composition of the latter, and with some slight changes it was published.

The first stanza was published in 1880 with the tune GOD BE WITH YOU by William G. Tomer in Gospel Bells; the 1883 edition of that hymnal included eight stanzas. A popular hymn, "God Be with You" gained currency through the evangelistic crusades of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey (PHH 73). Modern hymnals usually print only four stanzas.

The text is essentially a parting blessing, a prayer that God will guide you (st. 1), feed you (st. 2), and protect you in life and in death (st. 3-4). Each stanza is framed by the phrase "God be with you till we meet again."

A graduate of Middlebury College, Vermont, and of Andover Theological Seminary, Newton Center, Massachusetts, Rankin served Congregational churches in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey (1855-1889). In 1889 he became president of Howard University, Washington, D.C., a school famous for its many prominent African American graduates. Rankin issued three volumes of poetry and hymn texts (of which "God Be with You" is his most well-known), collaborated in the compilation of hymnals such as The Gospel Temperance Hymnal (1878) and Gospel Bells (1880), and published German-English Lyrics, Sacred and Secular (1897).

Liturgical Use:
Though traditionally used when ministers, missionaries, or others take their leave from a congregation, this hymn is generally useful as a dismissal hymn, as a prayer for blessing, and as a sung benediction.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Though the gospel tune by Tomer has enjoyed popularity, its overly sentimental character prompted a search for alternatives. Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England, 1872; d. St. Marylebone, London, England, 1958) composed the distinguished tune RANDOLPH for Rankin's text. The tune was first published in The English Hymnal (1906). In it Vaughan Williams matched the repetition of the first and last textual phrases with a repeated musical phrase.

Though written for unison singing and best accompanied with clear organ sounds, several stanzas sing well in parts, possibly even without accompaniment. Or sing the first and final phrases in unison and the inner phrases in harmony. Because the first and last phrases are identical for each stanza, this hymn is very effective when two groups alternate between stanzas, perhaps even facing each other.

Through his composing, conducting, collecting, editing, and teaching, Vaughan Williams became the chief figure in the realm of English music and church music in the first half of the twentieth century. His education included instruction at the Royal College of Music in London and Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as additional studies in Berlin and Paris. During World War I he served in the army medical corps in France. Vaughan Williams taught music at the Royal College of Music (1920-1940), conducted the Bach Choir in London (1920-1927), and directed the Leith Hill Music Festival in Dorking (1905-1953). A major influence in his life was the English folk song. A knowledgeable collector of folk songs, he was also a member of the Folksong Society and a supporter of the English Folk Dance Society. Vaughan Williams wrote various articles and books, including National Music (1935), and composed numerous arrange¬ments of folk songs; many of his compositions show the impact of folk rhythms and melodic modes. His original compositions cover nearly all musical genres, from orchestral symphonies and concertos to choral works, from songs to operas, and from chamber music to music for films. Vaughan Williams's church music includes anthems; choral-orchestral works, such as Magnificat (1932), Dona Nobis Pacem (1936), and HodieThe English Hymnal(1906), and coeditor (with Martin Shaw) of Songs of Praise (1925, 1931) and the Oxford Book of Carols (1928).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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