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Alleluia, Sing to Jesus!

Sung in Worship: Sunday 12 May (The Seventh Sunday of Easter/Ascension Sunday)

The words are by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), b. Bristol, 1837, where he sang as a young man in the choir of St Raphael’s church. St Raphael’s was strongly Anglo-Catholic, to the extent that the Bishop of the Diocese closed it down in 1877 as too ritualistic.   Dix spent his working life as the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow (from about 1863), but he returned to the Southwest on retirement and he died in  Cheddar, Somerset, in 1898.  Throughout his time in Scotland, and in retirement, Dix wrote hymns and poems.  Some hymns that we sing are ‘As with glad ness men of old,” ‘What child is this,” “I heard the voice of Jesus say.”  Dix wrote “Alleluia, sing to Jesus” in 1866; originally called ”Redemption by the Precious Blood,” it was published the following year in his Altar Songs, Verses on the Holy Eucharist.  In the 1868 Appendix to A&M it was set to the tune Alleluia, written by Samuel Sebastian Wesley specifically for these words. Nowadays, however, the tune used is usually Hyfrydol.

Hyfrydol (“lovely, cheerful, melodious, breathtaking”) was written by Rowland Huw Prichard (1811-1887).  Born in Greainyn, Bala, in Merioneithshire, Prichard was a weaver there until, in 1880, he moved to Flintshire to a position with the Welsh Flannel Manufacturing Company. He composed the tune in three voices in 1830, when he was 19 years old, and published it in 1844 in Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singers’ Friend), a collection of his tunes intended for Sunday Schools.  It was first published in an English collection in The Methodist Hymn Book of 1904, and then, reharmonized for four voices by Ralph Vaughan Williams, in The English Hymnal in 1906 as the setting for Dix’s words.  RVW also uses it in his “Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes.”  (Hyfrydol is widely used as the setting for Charles Wesley’s “Love divine, all loves excelling” as well as for many modern hymns.)  In Welsh, the f is voiced, sounding as v, and the first two vowels are schwas: [həvˈrədɔl].