Hymnary Friends,

Please pardon this brief interruption, and please consider a gift today to support the work of Hymnary.org. Here's why.

Each month half a million people visit this website for free access to the most complete database of North American hymnody on the planet. But this project does not come without a cost, and we have limited sources of revenue. Twice a year we hold a fund drive, and these drives are critical to our future.

So if you benefit from Hymnary.org, would you consider a donation today? Even small amounts help, and they also let us know you're behind us and support what we do.

Click the Donate button below to be taken to a secure giving site. Or you can make your tax-deductible contribution by sending a check to Hymnary.org at 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

On behalf of the entire Hymnary.org team, our thanks.
Harry Plantinga

597. The City Is Alive, O God

Text Information
First Line: The city is alive, O God
Title: The City Is Alive, O God
Author: William W. Reid, Jr.
Meter: CMD
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Galilee/Galilean; Industry & Labor; Society/Social Concerns (6 more...)
Copyright: © 1969, The Hymn Society of America. Used by permission
Tune Information
Composer: Eric H. Thiman (1923)
Meter: CMD
Key: C Major
Copyright: © Novello & Company, Ltd.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 9:36
st. 3 = Matt. 11:28-30

Ideas about the mission of the church have gone through many changes in the twentieth century. Thus the Hymn Society of America conducted a search in 1968 for new hymns about the task of the church in the world. The Society chose this hymn by William W. Reid, Jr. (b New York, NY, 1923), as one of the best texts from the more than eight hundred submissions. It was published in the Hymn Society pamphlet, Nine New Hymns on "The Mission of the Church" (1969).

In Isaiah 61:1-3 the prophet foretells the coming of the Messiah, who will "preach good news to the poor . . . bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives . . . and comfort those who mourn." This text takes that view of Christ's ministry and applies it to Christian service in the urban context. The major cities of the world are fascinating places, but they also contain "loneliness and greed and hate," and "crime and slums and lust abound." Just as Christ ministered "through healing touch, through word and cross," so must the church minister the gospel in word and deed throughout the whole world, but especially in the cities. "The City Is Alive" encourages us to be servants in those urban centers, to give Christian hope to the world, and to offer a new song of shalom to its citizens.

Reid was a Methodist minister serving congregations in Camptown, Pennsylvania (1950-1957); Carverton (near Wyoming), Pennsylvania (1957-1967); and the Central United Methodist Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (1967-1978), where he wrote this text. In 1978 he was appointed superintendent of the Wilkes-Barre district of the Methodist Church. Reid received his education at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he concentrated in botany. He served in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II and survived imprisonment in a German prison camp. The recipient of a divinity degree from the Yale Divinity School, Reid was inspired to write hymns by his father, the founder and first executive secretary of the Hymn Society. A number of Reid's hymns were published in pamphlets issued by the Hymn Society in 1955, 1958, and 1959.

Liturgical Use:
Worship that focuses on the variety of Christian ministries carried out in the world, especially in its cities.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Eric H. Thiman (b. Ashford, Kent, England, 1900; d. Camden, London, England, 1975) composed STOKESAY CASTLE in 1923 as a setting for "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus." The tune was published with a variety of other texts in the British Congregational Praise (1951) and in the Canadian Anglican and United Church's Hymn Book (1971). The tune is named after an old fortified manor house near Church-Stretton, close to the Onny River on the border between England and Wales. Thiman was much impressed with that house when he visited there.

STOKESAY CASTLE is marked by strong motives and a march-like accompaniment. Sing with strong unison voices and use sturdy organ accompaniment to make this “city hymn” come alive.

Thiman's education included study at Trinity College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music; he also received a Doctor of Music degree from the University of London in 1927. In 1932 he became a teacher of harmony at the Royal Academy of Music and in 1956 was named dean of the faculty of music at the University of London. An accomplished organist, Thiman made frequent recital tours both in England and throughout the British Commonwealth. One of his many interests was choral singing by congregations; he served London's Park Chapel from 1927 to 1957 and City Temple Church from 1957 to 1975. A prolific composer, Thiman wrote piano and orchestral pieces and some fine part songs, but most of his work was church music: he composed services, cantatas (including The Last Supper and The Temptation of Christ), many anthems, organ pieces, and hymn tunes. Chair of the music committee for Congregational Praise (1951), he contributed tunes, descants, and harmonizations to that hymnbook. Thiman also wrote music textbooks, including a manual on varied organ harmonizations, Varied Harmonies to Hymntunes (1924); his many hymn tune harmonizations were published as Varied Harmonies to 34 Well-Known Hymns (1937), Varied Harmonizations of Favorite Hymn Tunes (1955), and 44 Hymn Tunes Freely Harmonized (1969).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority page.

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us