January 27, 2013

Hail to the Lord Who Comes

In Her Fond Arms At Rest

Hail to the Lord Who Comes was written in 1880 by Anglican Priest and composer or translator of over 80 hymns, John Ellerton (1826-1893). It was published the following year in Mrs. Brock's Children's Hymn Book. It is set to the tune for Psalm 32 composed in 1648 by Henry Lawes (1595-1662). The son of a Vicar Choral of Salisbury Cathedral, he along with his brother and fellow composer, William Lawes (b.1602), were important composers of 17th century England. During the English Civil War period and subsequent Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell, they found themselves on the losing side. William was killed at the Siege of Chester in 1645, and Henry lost his position in the Chapel Royal; although he would be later be reinstated in 1660 with the restoration of the monarchy. In the Liturgy of the Hours, Hail to the Lord Who Comes is used on February 2, the  Feast of the Presentation. The version published in the Liturgy of the Hours is an adaption of Ellerton's original. His original 6-line stanzas ( have been reduced to 4-line stanzas ( An alternative tune that can be used with the 4-line version is St. Cecilia, as featured in the 1st video. For the 6-line version, a well known setting is the tune: 120th, as featured in the following 2nd video.

Tune: St. Cecilia (Meter:

HAIL TO THE LORD WHO COMES by John Ellerton, 1880 (Public Domain)

1. Hail to the Lord who comes,
comes to his temple gate!
Not with his angel host,
not in his kingly state;
no shouts proclaim him nigh,
no crowds his coming wait;

2. But, borne upon the throne
of Mary's gentle breast,
watched by her duteous love,
in her fond arms at rest;
thus to his Father's house
he comes, the heav'nly Guest.

3. There Joseph at her side
in reverent wonder stands,
and, filled with holy joy,
old Simeon in his hands
takes up the promised Child,
the glory of all lands.

4. Hail to the great First-born
whose ransom-price they pay!
The Son before all worlds,
the Child of man today,
that he might ransom us
who still in bondage lay.

5. O Light of all the earth,
thy children wait for thee!
come to thy temples here,
that we, from sin set free,
before thy Father's face
may all presented be!

Tune: 120th (Meter:


  1. Is the 6-line version of "All Hail To the Lord Who Comes", as in the 2nd video on the following page, available as an online download or CD?http://kpshaw.blogspot.fr/2013/01/143.html

  2. I've been researching this, and I can see no connection whatsoever with Lawes' Ps. xxxii with the Ps. cxx that appeared in Sternhold (Day's Psalter) in 1569, the tune now known as OLD 120TH.


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