Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wr… Go to person page >
Translator: John Mason Neale
John M. Neale's life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly temperament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackvi… Go to person page >
Thou New Jerusalem on high. By J. M. Neale, from the Sarum Breviary, given in his Mediaeval Hymns, 1851. In revising it for the Hymnal, iv., 1854, Dr. Neale rendered it, "Ye choirs of New Jerusalem, To sweet new strains," &c. This was repeated in his Mediaeval Hymns, 2nd ed. 1863, with stanza ii. rewritten, and is the form of the hymn in common use.
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Joseph Barnby (PHH 438) composed O PERFECT LOVE and said it was a "hymn tune in the natural style and idiom … of our own time." Originally an anthem, O PERFECT LOVE was shortened into a hymn tune for publication in The Hymnal Companion (1890) and in the Church Hymnary (1898). The tune is also know…