This is the third of my cycle of ten Hymns, called “The Psalms of Davey”. They are being reproduced in a special category on this blog one after another. In only one case is the tune my own (that’ll be number ten). In other cases, please follow the links to get to the midi for the tunes, courtesy of http://www.cyberhymnal.org
3. “THOU ART THE LORD WHO ART HIGHLY EXALTED”
Words Uncle Davey, Voronezh, Russia, 1985. Music Alexey Fyodorovich Lvov Tune name “Russian Hymn”, also known as “The Tsarist national anthem” – the pre-Revolutionary Russian National Anthem. This is one of the finest national anthems in the world and not currently used as an anthem by any country, but the first two lines of the verse will be familiar from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, where it is mixed with the crash of the cannon and snatches of ‘La Marsellaise’ to produce one of the most evocative pieces of classical music ever composed. At present, Russia, being a republic, chose after the dismantling of the Soviet Union by the power of God and the prayer of the Church, to retain for itself instead of a Tsarist hymn, the old Soviet anthem known as “Soyuz nerushimy” but with new, pluralist words. The Tsarist hymn is not even widely known among the youth of Russia today, the most the man in the street is likely to remember are the three opening words; “Bozhe, tsarya khrani!” (“God save the King”) To which I can only say that the Tsar of all the Russias now cannot be saved by God. For God himself, the LORD Jesus Christ, is Tsar of all the Russias and of all earthly and heavenly dominions, and Vladimir Putin, who is to my mind a very good President for the Russian Federation, is but an instrument in His hands. So the best use for this majestic piece of music is as a hymn to God. It is widely sung in English speaking Churches throughout the world to the hymn “God of the covenant, triune Jehovah”, and also for “God the omnipotent king who ordaineth” which are both much finer hymns than this is, but nevertheless, maybe this will catch someone at the right mood and be a source of comfort or inspiration.
Thou art the Lord who art highly exalted,
Far over earth and Thy creatures below
Thou art the sov’reign of all creation,
Thou standest sure when to ashes we go.
We are rebellious, thou art yet sov’reign
Thou hast our life breath in Thine holy hand
Sinners, we howl in our hard-hearted stupor
Still Thou art king, and Thy statutes all stand.
We are idolatrous, Thou art the true God
Thou art o’erall and Thou rulest in pow’r.
Search, Lord, our hearts, and, saviour, within us
Shatter the brickwork of Babylon’s tow’r.
Thou art almighty, Thou art all-holy
All heathen gods are but ashes and dust.
Thou art the Judge and Thou art the Saviour
Thy works declare Thou art perfect and just.
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18v25b)