For All the Saints

This hymn for liturgical saints days was written by William Walsham How (1823–1897) and first published in Hymn for Saints’ Days, and Other Hymns (London: Bell & Daldy, 1864 | Fig. 1), compiled by Horatio Nelson (1823–1913, 3rd Earl Nelson of Trafalgar House, Wiltshire). At the time, William How was rector of Whittington, Shropshire. The original text contained eleven stanzas of three lines, beginning “For all Thy saints,” with an Alleluia refrain. It was headed by Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (ESV)1.

For all the saints
who from their labours rest,
Who thee by faith
before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus,
Be forever blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou wast their rock,
Their fortress, and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain
In the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness
Drear their one true light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, may thy soldiers,
Faithful, true, and bold
Fight as the saints
Who nobly fought of old
And win with them
The victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, blest communion,
Fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle,
They in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee,
for all are thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

And when the fight is fierce,
The warfare long,
Steals on the ear
The distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again
And arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The golden evening
Brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful
Warriors cometh rest;
Sweet is the calm,
Of paradise, the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

But, lo! there breaks
A yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant
Rise in bright array;
The King of glory
Passes on his way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds,
from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl
Streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!


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