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Updated 11/14/2018

 

For All the Saints


William Walsham How

"For All the Saints" was written as a processional hymn by the Anglican Bishop of Wakefield, William Walsham How. Known as Walsham How, he was the son of a Shrewsbury solicitor, How was educated at Shrewsbury School, Wadham College, Oxford and University College, Durham. He was ordained in 1846, and after a curacy at Kidderminster, began more than thirty years actively engaged in parish work in Shropshire, as curate at the Abbey Church in Shrewsbury in 1848. In 1851 he became Rector of Whittington and was at one point Rural Dean of Oswestry in 1860, then Suffragan Bishop of Bedford and in turn Bishop of Wakefield.

It was during his period at Whittington he wrote the bulk of his published works and founded the first public library in Oswestry. In 1863–1868 he brought out a Commentary on the Four Gospels and he also wrote a manual for the Holy Communion. Published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge during the 1890s under the title "Holy Communion, Preparation and Companion...together with the Collects, Epistles and Gospels" this book was widely distributed and many copies still survive today. In the movement for infusing new spiritual life into the church services, especially among the poor, How was a great force. He took a stand against what he regarded as immoral literature and Thomas Hardy claimed that he had burned a copy of his novel Jude the Obscure. How was much helped in his earlier work by his wife, Frances A. Douglas (died 1887).

In 1888 he was made the first bishop of Wakefield, and in the north of England he continued to do valuable work. His sermons were straightforward, earnest and attractive; and besides publishing several volumes of these, he wrote a good deal of verse, including such well-known hymns as Who is this so weak and helpless, Lord, Thy children guide and keep and For All the Saints. As bishop he consecrated many churches, including the Church of St John the Divine, Calder Grove in 1892.

He died while on holiday in Ireland, on 10 August 1897 in Leenane, County Mayo. Although there is a marble memorial to him in Wakefield Cathedral, he was buried in Whittington, Shropshire, where he had been rector for 28 years. There is also a memorial plaque to him inside the London city church of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, bearing the line "Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest" from his hymn, "For all the saints".

Lyrics by William Walsham How

 
1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
2. 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!
3. For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
4. O 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!
5. For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
6. For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
7. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
8. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
9. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
10. 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!
11. 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!