Glorious Anthem Depicting the Resurrection
The Baroque composer George Frideric Handel composed his “Judas Macabbeus” oratorio in 1746, a few years after his nominal work “Messiah”. The former was a brisk, fiery composition, a work that had so much drama and gravitas. So much so that in 1884, after his personal tragedy where he lost his first spouse, Marie de Vayentborg, Swiss Pastor Edmond Budry, with his Marie in his heart and his mind, wrote, “A Toi La Gloire” (“Thine Is The Glory”). Besides serving as a pastor, Budry wrote hymns and translated German, Latin and English hymns into French. The words he found for “Thine Is The Glory” had been all from Theology about the triumph of Christ over death. It’s an ode to the Resurrection and the new beginnings given mankind through the miracle of Christ. In the chorus of Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabeus”, he laid the sacred words anchored on the Old Testament of the Bible and infused it with the message: to keep the faith, not to doubt Christ’s promise, and that death can be conquered by the love of God.
The French hymn book “Chants Evangelique” included “A Toi La Gloire” when it was published. In 1923, British Pastor Richard Hoyle was commissioned by the World Christian Federation to make an English translation of “A Toi La Gloire” for their Cantate Domino hymnal book. It was translated with Budry’s permission of course. Friedrich-Heinrich Rajke used Handel’s tune as well for the Advent hymn “Zion’s Daughter”. In the Netherlands, in 1953, Calvin Seerveld used the tune and wrote, “I Praised Be The Father” which was his very own wedding theme (and is possibly why the song ”Thine Is The Glory” is considered a wedding hymn in the Netherlands).
Popular as a funeral and Easter hymn, “Thine Is The Glory” is also in Dutch. Spain has embraced it with its lyrics (Canticorum Iubilo) and it’s popular during weddings. It was a work that was recommended to be played with drama and a choral performance backed up by an orchestra. Performing it is meant to rouse a congregation during Christmas and Easter (like in Ireland). Last but not least, it’s used in church services by the British Monarchy, especially at Easter. And appropriate during funerals in England. During Christmas Eve service at St.Patrick’s Cathedral in Ireland, it is a tradition for “Thine Is The Glory” to be performed.