HYMN STUDY

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THINE BE THE GLORY

Notes on the French original


A Toi la gloire, O Ressuscite
A Toi la victoire Pour l’eternite!
Brillant de lumiere, L’ange est descendu,
Il roule la pierre Du tombeau vaincu.

A Toi la gloire, O Ressuscite
A Toi la victoire Pour l’eternite!

Vois - le paraitre: C’est lui, c’est Jesus,
Ton Sauveur, ton Maitre! Oh! ne doute plus!
Sois dans l’allegresse, Peuple du Seigneur,
Et redis sans cesse Que Christ est vainqueur,

A Toi la gloire, O Ressuscite
A Toi la victoire Pour l’eternite!

Craindrais - je encore? Il vit a jamais,
Celui que j’adore, Le Prince de paix.
Il est ma victoire, mon puissant soutien,
Ma vie et ma gloire: Non, je ne crains rien.

A Toi la gloire, O Ressuscite
A Toi la victoire Pour l’eternite!

Edmond Louis Budry, 1854 - 1932

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This hymn is well known in English in the form of Richard Hoyle’s translation, Thine be the glory. But the difficulty with translating hymns is that of re-creating poetry which is singable. Hoyle’s work is excellent as a hymn, but as a translation has necessarily lost some of the literal meaning.

For the benefit of those who do not understand French, I offer a more literal, but definitely not poetical, translation. (I think we will all be multilingual in heaven, and sing in the original languages.)

The chorus, and start of the first verse: Thine be the glory, Risen, conquering Son, Endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won. This is an expansion (and perhaps improvement) over the original which would be: Thine be the glory O risen one Thine be the victory For eternity.

The rest of verse 1 would translate as: Brilliant in light (or clothed in brilliant light), The angel came down, He rolls (away) the stone From the conquered (defeated) grave. Comment, the grave, and thus death and its power, was at that moment conquered by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15.

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Verse 2 starts: See him appear; It’s him, it’s Jesus! Thy Saviour, thy Lord! O, do not doubt any more! I am reminded of the account in John 20:11-16 where Mary meets the risen Jesus, having mistaken him for the gardener. "Please tell me where you have taken him." "Mary." "Master!"

Verse 2 continues: Be in great joy, People of the Lord, Say again without ceasing, "Jesus is Victor!" The theme has switched from the personal and individual to the group, the whole people of God, (as Hoyle renders it, Let the church with gladness, Hymns of triumph sing). This says that no one is left out. It may have been only one person, Mary, in the garden that first Easter morning, but we may all now proclaim the victory of our Lord.

Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of the saints. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 149;1, Psalm 150:6

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Verse 3: Shall I be afraid any longer? He lives for ever, Him whom I adore, The Prince of peace. He is my victory, My almighty sustainer, My life and my glory; No, I shall not be afraid of anything.
It is in this verse that I prefer the French original (with apologies to Hoyle). Make us more than conquerors is based upon Romans 8:37, In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

But He is my victory says more in the context of this hymn. ... The word of the Lord came unto Abram ... Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. Genesis 15:1
But thou, O lord, art a shield to me; my glory and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3
I will love thee, O lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from mine enemies. Psalm 18:1 - 3

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Music

In closing, a note about the music. The tune is from G. F. Handel’s Judas Maccabeas, "See how the conquering hero comes." Could it be that this was the seed of inspiration for Budry? While it is wrong to esteem hymns only for the tune, the music is often left as if it doesn’t matter, or a second rate tune is sung just because people are afraid or too lazy to tackle something worth singing. Why not plan to sing a verse just to learn the tune? I have heard the comment, "We don’t want any minor keys here," objecting to a brief change of key in one excellent tune. Yet the favourite Welsh tune Ebenezer is all in a minor key.

Music had such an important place in God’s plan that it was the chief work of some of the families of the Levites. In the temple planned by David and built by Solomon, there was provision for choirs facing each other across opposite sides of the sanctuary, on a much grander scale than I have heard during Choral Evensong in a cathedral. If God is worthy of the best, that should include the best of both old and new tunes, or else our worship is impoverished. For example, both modern rap and early plain-song have enormous power to communicate Bible truth if rightly used.

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Translation

1 Thine be the glory       O risen one
Thine be the victory      For eternity.
Brilliant in light (or clothed in brilliant light),      The angel came down,
He rolls (away) the stone       From the conquered (defeated) grave.

2 See him appear;       It’s him, it’s Jesus!       Thy Saviour, thy Lord!
O, do not doubt any more!       Be in great joy,       People of the Lord,
Say again without ceasing,       "Jesus is Victor!"

3 Shall I be afraid any longer?       He lives for ever,       Him whom I adore,
The Prince of peace.       He is my victory,       My almighty sustainer,
My life and my glory;       No, I shall not be afraid of anything.

A more metrical conclusion to verse 3:

What more shall I fear?       Jesus is alive,
Him whom I adore,       Jesus ,Prince of peace.
Jesus is my Victory,       Jesus is my Strength,
My life and my glory,       Nothing shall I fear!

R J Higginson, BSc., BD 8 April 1996 Copyright.

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