Choosing the Perfect Christening Hymn

The majority of vicars will let you choose a hymn or two to sing at your baby’s christening. It can sometimes be hard to choose something appropriate and often parents go with the two or three that they know well. This is actually a good idea as people attending the Christening are more likely to sing along to something they are familiar with.

Let’s see how many hymns you remember from school and broaden your knowledge of suitable hymns for a christening. We have listed all the hymns we feel would be good at a christening below and then included the full lyrics to aid you in making your decision.

Hymn choices include:

  • Morning has broken
  • All things bright and beautiful
  • The Lord of the Dance
  • Sing Hosanna
  • Lord of all hopefulness
  • O Jesus I have promised
  • One more step along the world I go
  • Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
  • For all the Saints
  • Living Lord
  • Be Still for the Presence of the Lord
  • He’s got the whole world in his hands

The hymns to avoid because they are typically sung at funerals are:

  • Abide with Me
  • The Lord’s My Shepherd
  • The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Every church has a different organist and assistant organist setup. It is sometimes easier to get the number of the organist from the vicar so you can contact them directly. Finding out which hymns are possible first will avoid disappointment and organists are also a wealth of information in this area, as you can imagine. You can always ask the vicar who will in turn ask the organist if they can play the hymn that you want for the christening. They may also have their own list of possible choices for you to select yours from.

Most people are very familiar with ‘Morning has broken’, ‘All things bright and beautiful’, ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’, and ‘Sing Hosanna’ as these used to be regulars in school assemblies. It is possible that you know others besides these and just need to see the lyrics to jog your memory. So here you go and whatever you choose have a wonderful day.

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Refrain:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flow’r that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

The Lord of the Dance

I danced in the morning
When the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon
And the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heave
And I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then,wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you all,
wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all
in the Dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe
And the pharisee,
But they would not dance
And they wouldn’t follow me.
I danced for the fishermen,
For James and John –
They came with me
And the Dance went on.

I danced on the Sabbath
And I cured the lame;
The holy people
Said it was a shame.
They whipped and they stripped
And they hung me on high,
And they left me there
On a Cross to die.

I danced on a Friday
When the sky turned black –
It’s hard to dance
With the devil on your back.
They buried my body
And they thought I’d gone,
But I am the Dance,
And I still go on.

They cut me down
And I leapt up high;
I am the life
That’ll never, never die;
I’ll live in you
If you’ll live in me –
I am the Lord
Of the Dance, said he.

Sing Hosanna

Give me joy in my heart
keep me praising
give me joy in my heart, I pray
give me joy in my heart
keep me praising
keep me praising till the break of day.

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
sing hosanna to the King of kings.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
sing hosanna to the King.

Give me peace in my heart
keep me resting
give me peace in my heart, I pray
give me peace in my heart
keep me resting
keep me resting till the break of day.

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
sing hosanna to the King of kings.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
sing hosanna to the King.

Give me love in my heart
keep me serving
give me love in heart, I pray
give me love in my heart
keep me serving
keep me serving till the break of day.

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
sing hosanna to the King of kings.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
sing hosanna to the King.

 

Oh Jesus I have promised

O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.

Oh, let me feel Thee near me;
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.

Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,
To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Oh, give me grace to follow,
My Master and my Friend.

Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,
And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
Is in Thy strength alone.
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,
Uphold me to the end;
And then to rest receive me,
My Savior and my Friend.

One More Step along the World I Go

One more step along the world I go,
One more step along the world I go;
From the old things to the new,
Keep me travelling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.

Round the corners of the world I turn,
More and more about the world I learn;
All the new things that I see
You’ll be looking at along with me.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.

As I travel through the bad and good,
Keep me travelling the way I should.
Where I see no way to go,
You’ll be telling me the way, I know.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.

Give me courage when the world is rough,
Keep me loving though the world is tough;
Leap and sing in all I do,
Keep me travelling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.

You are older than the world can be,
You are younger than the life in me;
Ever old and ever new,
Keep me travelling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee.

O sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

Be Still for the Presence of The Lord

Be still for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One is here;
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear.
In Him no sin is found,
We stand on holy ground;
Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One is here.

Be still, for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around;
He burns with holy fire,
With splendour He is crowned.
How awesome is the sight,
Our radiant King of light!
Be still, for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around.

Be still, for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place;
He comes to cleanse and heal,
To minister His grace.
No work too hard for Him,
In faith receive from Him;
Be still, for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place.

He’s got the Whole World in his hands

He’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got the whole world in his hands.

He’s got the tiny little baby in his hands.
He’s got the tiny little baby in his hands.
He’s got the tiny little baby in his hands.
He’s got the baby in his hands.

He’s got you and my brother in his hands.
He’s got you and my brother in his hands.
He’s got you and my brother in his hands.
He’s got you and my in his hands.

He’s got the son and his father in his hands.
He’s got the son and his father in his hands.
He’s got the son and his father in his hands.
He’s got son and father in his hands.

He’s got the mother and her daughter in his hands.
He’s got the mother and her daughter in his hands.
He’s got the mother and her daughter in his hands.
He’s got mother and daughter in his hands.

He’s got everybody here in his hands.
He’s got everybody here in his hands.
He’s got everybody here in his hands.
He’s got everybody in his hands.

He’s got the sun and the moon in his hands.
He’s got the sun and the moon in his hands.
He’s got the sun and the moon in his hands.
He’s got sun and moon in his hands.

 

 

 

 

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Royal Christenings Traditions Pomp and Ceremony

Royal Souvenir First Tooth PotWith the royal family having recently announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is carrying a second child, the nation’s attention and indeed that of the world, is affixed once more on all things regal. In sharp contrast to royal weddings, funerals, and coronations (which are necessarily grand ceremonies of state) royal christenings tend to be private affairs, with just a few close relatives present.

Consequently, royal christenings throughout history are not as well documented as the other occasions mentioned. Though we know enough about them to know that some were not quite so modest. The christening of Elizabeth I featured heralds and ringing trumpets.

Many of the late Georgian and Victorian christenings were overblown affairs, with increasingly elaborate props and guests from all over the world. Intimacy, then, is a feature only really present in the christenings of more recent monarchs. Elizabeth II was attended by nine people, that of Queen Victoria herself by just seven.

What actually happens?

The ceremony is usually – though not always – conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and proceedings transpire in a particular order, in a time usually a little under half-an-hour. The ceremony commences with a selection of hymns, before the infant is brought into the room by the Head Nurse, accompanied by the mother’s lady-in-waiting. The child is then handed to the godparent and then to the archbishop. The Archbishop then asks for a name, before proceeding to pour holy water from the font over the child’s head while declaring ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’.

Another hymn is then sung and those present leave the room in the same order that they entered, and are ushered into another room where the register is signed.  A reception then follows, in which everyone enjoys light refreshments and cake.

Royal christenings are distinct in that they feature three special items, which have been present in almost every royal christening since that of Princess Victoria in 1841.

The Honiton Lace Robe

The gown first worn by Princess Victoria was directly inspired by her mother’s wedding dress from the preceding year. When Victoria the elder needed a gown for her daughter’s christening, she turned to a lace-maker from Honiton, East Devon – though the precise identity of this lace-maker is disputed.

It has been used by more than sixty individuals since its debut 173 years ago and the colour of the satin has now faded from white to cream and the linen has now worn out.  As one might imagine, this costume is delicate and requires extremely careful maintenance along with occasional reparative work. Following every outing, the outfit is hand-washed in sterilised water.  It is then dried, wrapped in black tissue paper and stored in an airtight container in Buckingham Palace.

The Lily Font

Even by royal standards, this is a breathtakingly opulent font. It is made from gold-gilded silver and is around seventeen inches wide and seventeen inches tall. Its border is comprised of elaborate lilies, while seated cherubim flank its base. Victoria commissioned the font in 1840, allegedly on the sole grounds that an illegitimate child had been christened in an earlier one. In 1960, the font was moved from Windsor Castle to the Tower of London, where it now resides.

The Holy Water

While having a priest bless the water has long been within the means of most families, the royals have traditionally gone a step further and had their water taken from the river Jordan, where Christian tradition holds that Jesus Christ was baptised by John.

Victoria

Victoria’s christening took place in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace at around three o’clock in the afternoon of June 24th, 1819. The ceremony was unusual, not only in that it was sparsely attended, but in that no-one present knew what the baby’s name would be.

While Victoria’s parents had come up with a shortlist of names, the decision ultimately rested with Victoria’s father’s brother: the Prince Regent, George IV. George despised his brother and flatly rejected all four of the names put forward, declaring that the child should not be given any name currently used by the royal family. When the Archbishop came to ask George for a name, he replied with ‘Alexandrina’, after the Russian Emperor Alexander I.

And so Victoria was christened ‘Alexandrina Victoria’. Though the name ‘Drina’ persisted throughout her childhood, but she always preferred to be called by her second name and after she became queen, she often got her way.

Venues

Throughout history, British monarchs have built and used a variety of venues for the occasion. The last royal christening (that of Prince George in October last year) was carried out in the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace.

For the house of Windsor, the music room in Buckingham palace has long been a favoured venue for the ceremony and four royal babies have been christened there:  Charles, Anne, Andrew and William. In each instance, the ceremony was performed by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury.

The current monarch was officially welcomed into the world on 29th May, 1926 – around five weeks after her birth. According to historian and royal biographer Sarah Bradford, the queen cried so much that “her nurse dosed her with dill water, an old-fashioned remedy, to the amusement of her uncle, the Prince of Wales.”

Cakes

No overview of royal christenings would be complete without at least a brief mention of the various christening cakes that have been created for the occasion, the most ostentatious of which seems to be that presented to Edward VII, which The Times compared to a ‘coliseum of sugar’ and reported as being around two-and-a-half feet wide and over four feet tall.

In keeping with tradition, most royal christening cakes are made from the top layer of the parents’ wedding cake. William’s was one such, though the fact that the top layer alone was sufficient to feed 182 veterans of the Falklands war should give some indication of the enormousness of Charles and Diana’s wedding cake.

 

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Patron Saints – Who was St. Christopher?

Contemporary St Christopher NecklaceSt. Christopher was a Christian martyr who reputedly lived and died under the reign of the Roman Emperor Decius. Though he was martyred in the third century, St. Christopher was not widely-venerated until almost a thousand years later.

Christopher is one of many Christian proselytisers alleged to have been executed by the Roman Empire for religious reasons.  Perhaps the most famous of his near-contemporaries was St. Pancras of Rome – a saint well-known in Britain as the patron saint of children. His name is carried by many churches, a hospital and a major London train station.  Like Christopher, Pancras was a Christian martyr of the period, executed for spreading Christianity. Pancras, however was martyred aged only 14 – which could possibly explain why he is widely considered the patron saint of children.

Christopher’s patronage, by contrast, is very broad; he is revered by a variety of people, including bookbinders, archers, bachelors, mariners, and surfers.  Among his many patrons, Christopher is most commonly held as the patron saint of travellers and his image is most often worn by (or placed in the vehicles of) travelling Christians.

Legends surrounding St. Christopher

Many legends surround St. Christopher’s life.  He was a Canaanite and a servant of the king of Canaan (a region in the Middle East comprising much of modern-day Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.) Some versions of the legend portray him the son of the King, who was conceived only after lengthy prayer to the Virgin Mary. In every version of the legend, he is possessed of immense strength and therefore of particular use to his master in tasks requiring great physical prowess.  Accounts variously describe him as having a fearsome, ugly face and as being between seven and eighteen feet tall.

His route toward Christianity was similarly unusual. According to the story, Christopher one day determined that, since his talents were great they should be used in service of the greatest power he could find. He was therefore happy to serve the King of Canaan, who was indeed a very powerful man, until one day he saw his master cross himself on hearing the name of the Devil.

Christopher resolved therefore to serve the Devil, reasoning that anyone whom his master feared must surely be more powerful than his master. He searched long and hard for the Devil and eventually found him, working as one of a gang of bandits. It was not long, however, before Christopher noted that even the Devil was frightened by something: a roadside cross. Christopher then followed his earlier reasoning to the conclusion that Christ was more powerful than the Devil, and so resolved to serve Christ.

After receiving instruction in Christianity from a roadside hermit, Christopher became a devout evangelical. He travelled from place to place, spreading the Christian message. He abstained from traditional acts of devotion, such as fasting or praying, (one might guess that his considerable stature excluded him from them), but he found he could serve Christ using his physical strength.

The Story of the River

Christopher did this by ferrying travellers across a raging river, over which there was no other safe form of passage. It is here that the most widely-known legend begins. For a long while, Christopher spent his days carrying travellers across the river, until he was one day charged with carrying across a small boy – a task complicated by the fact that, when he reached the centre of the river, Christopher found that the apparently small child had become very heavy indeed.

Undeterred, Christopher delivered his charge to the opposite shore. It was then that the child revealed himself to be Christ and explained that his tremendous weight was due to the fact that he was carrying the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. Christopher, as one might expect, demanded proof and the child obliged by transforming Christopher’s staff into a fruit-bearing palm tree.

On hearing of this miracle, many of the locals rejoiced and converted immediately to Christianity. The local authorities, however, took a rather more dim view of the incident and ordered that Christopher be imprisoned, tortured and beheaded.

This tale explains the etymological roots of St. Christopher’s name, which stems from the Greek ‘Christophoros’, or ‘Christ bearer’. A similar legend exists for the Egyptian martyr St. Menas, leading many scholars to conclude that the two are one and the same. Both versions of the tale are derived from an ancient Greek legend in which Jason carries an old woman across the river Anauros, unaware that the old woman is in fact Hera, Queen of the Gods, in disguise.

Christopher in Catholicism

Prior to the 15th century, the Catholic Church had no formal process of canonisation with which to determine which individuals were worthy of the title ‘saint’. During this time, there existed no central authority charged with the task; it was simply a matter of popular consensus. To put it another way, individuals were awarded sainthood on the basis that they were referred to as saints, rather being referred to as saints because they had been awarded sainthood.

As a consequence, a lot of supposed ‘saints’ were not canonical figures, or even Christian figures at all; many were based on legends from other cultures and religions. There was even one account which held that the Buddha once travelled west to convert to Christianity and had thereby attained sainthood.

Half a millennium later, in 1969, the Vatican decided that their Universal Calendar was in need of reform. This process would establish which of these historical ‘saints’ were really worthy of the title and exclude those that remained from the calendar.

There were many casualties. Some saints were considered so legendary that their cults were repressed, such as that of St. Ursula. Christopher was determined to be undeserving of such a severe measure, but still sufficiently dubious to be culled from the universal calendar, but his name can still be found on some local calendars.

Modern Perspectives on St. Christopher

St. Christopher has come to be widely associated with safety and stewardship, which could explain why his name is so often invoked – prayers are usually to him made by those seeking assurance against possible hardship. This includes travellers in the literal sense, but also of those in a figurative sense:  those embarking on a new career or lifestyle might appeal to him, as might those embarking on a new enterprise, or welcoming a new addition to a group of like-minded individuals, or a family.  His name is therefore associated with important events such as funerals, weddings, and of course christenings.

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The Scottish Quaich and its Christening Connections

What is a Quaich?

A Quaich is a large, shallow cup with a long handle (or lug) on either side. It has been used in Scotland for centuries as a symbol of friendship and trust. The precise origins of the quaich are unclear, as it has no obvious antecedents in Europe. One popular theory holds that the vessel is descended from a scallop shell, from which ancient highlanders would drink whisky; another holds that it played an important role in druidic blood sacrifice.

While the origins of the quaich are disputed, most agree that quaich is a uniquely Scottish invention.  It was predominantly used to drink spirits, such as whisky and brandy – though larger forms of the quaich were also used to drink ale.

They were also carried by travellers, since they could be easily hung from a saddle or belt. It could be used to drink from streams, as well as in taverns and inns along the road. Over time, the quaich became a standard means of measurement, with one finger being the rough equivalent of one contemporary dram.

The Quaichs social function

The quaich was a social drinking vessel which came into being during a time when no-one drank out of someone else’s cup. The quaich thereby came to symbolise friendship; one person would present another with the quaich, using both hands – which would render them incapable of holding a secret weapon. In this way trust was fostered between warring clans.

It also became a traditional gift at important gatherings and ceremonies such as weddings and christenings. A newlywed couple might drink from the same quaich in order to indicate that they trusted one another, while at christenings the quaich might be passed between attendees, who would then drink from it to indicate that they were all good friends.

What is a Quaich made from?

Earlier forms of the quaich were made from a variety of materials (including bone) but the most popular was wood, since wood was widely available.  A quaich could either be hewn from a single body of wood, or spun from individual staves. Of the latter sort, the most elaborate were made from many different sorts of wood, in shades both light and dark, which were interwoven in complicated patterns and bound together with withies (strips of willow) or bands of silver if you were rich.

In the centre of the basin usually lay a large coin or medallion, which would seal the area where the wooden strands met. These coins would usually then be engraved with one of any number of different ways: with a coat of arms, a set of initials, a motto, or a toast:  ‘cheers!’

The evolution of the Quaich

Since the quaich was so often offered as a gift at special occasions, there arose a demand for more impressive versions of the vessel. This meant that the skills of those that could make such items became more sought-after. Quaich-makers came to be regarded as artisans and the best Quaichs were regarded as masterpieces; that were prized not only in Scotland, but in England, too.

By the late seventeenth century, the quaich had become a highly sought after item. It had to be altered to suit the needs of aristocracy. Some of the early Quaichs were very large, cumbersome devices – not entirely suitable for a refined lord or lady.

Fortunately, this rise in popularity coincided with the increased availability of lighter materials, such as silver. As quaich-makers began to make use of these materials, their products became progressively better and easy to make.

As a by-product of this, skilled quaich-makers could then use metalworking to create patterns of great complexity and artistic value; and from then on more decorated Quaichs became widely available than ever before. The lugs of the quaich, while functional, are also a source of the vessel’s aesthetic appeal and served as a canvas for elaborate engravings.

Later on came glass-bottomed variants of the quaich, which – in slight contradiction with the Quaichs traditional background – allowed the drinker to keep an eye on their companions, even whilst drinking. Other variants placed two panes of glass at the bottom, so that a keepsake (such as a lock of hair) could be preserved at the bottom of the glass. In 1589, King James of Scotland presented his wife, Anne of Norway, with one such quaich as a wedding gift.

Though wooden Quaichs are still widely available, modern Quaichs are typically made from metal, since this allows for cheaper manufacture; pewter, in particular, is very popular. They remain an ever popular gift at weddings and christenings.

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