Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The New Book of Praise (9)

The New Book of Praise (9)
Hymn 33–The Strife Is o'er, the Battle Done

In this little series of articles about the new Book of Praise, I am introducing the hymns that are new to it.

“The Strife Is o'er, the Battle Done” is an Easter hymn based mostly on 1 Corinthians 15. It proclaims the death of Christ as the final battle with the powers of evil. He is the victor and his resurrection marks the decisive outcome of the battle. Each stanza begins with some aspect of Christ's resurrection and ends with a response of praise from God's people. Just like some of the Psalms, it ends with a shouted “Alleluia!”

Francis Pott translated the song from Latin into English c. 1859. The author of the Latin original is unknown. It is thought to have been written in the twelfth century. Francis Pott was a Church of England minister but had to retire early because of deafness. In his retirement, he devoted himself to psalmody and hymnody.

The tune, VICTORY, was authored by the Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). The tune is also sometimes named PALESTRINA. In addition to being one of the most gifted composers of his age, he was a teacher of voice and organ, and was a choirmaster.

This arrangement was made by William Monk in 1861. The tune is rather sober but is surrounded by festive "Alleluias." This song has the interesting element of a threefold “Alleluia” which is sung only before the first stanza. Each stanza, also, ends with an “Alleluia.”

Sources: Psalter Hymnal Handbook; Internet