A Processional Fit For All The Saints
Considering that the Catholic Church venerates more than ten thousand saints, there are just a handful of hymns performed on the Feast of Saints, November 1. In 1906, the tune composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams is Sine Nomine (no name), written for singing in unison at the beginning and the ending verses, and in harmony in the middle verses. This hymn begins with bold notes that set the heroic tone about the work done by the saints; their courage against the adversities in their lives with God as their Captain. In choir performances, this is performed with emotion by people who find the saints’ struggles relatable and inspiring. This is felt in the beginning stanzas, in music that is reminiscent of the procession in heaven of the saints. And sometimes there are silences in between the verses, just as it is in real life when people congregate in Church; some can pray best in the silent gaps and some are able to pray in the soaring praises within the verses. Tender piano or organ accompaniment supports the poignant lyrics of this popular hymn in the parts describing saints coming to rest at the end of the day, warriors of the faith. Here the congregation sings in hushed awe of their glorious example. The music soars once more to honor the lives of the saints towards the end because it is God who honors the saints when they return to Him in Paradise.
The sublime processional hymn “For All The Saints” was penned by Anglican Bishop William Walsham How. Bishop How was adept in imagery and rhetoric. The hymn first appeared in Earl Nelson’s Hymns for Saints’ Days, and Other Hymns (1864).
All his hymns, sacred and secular were published in Poems and Hymns (1886). A separate publication of his 54 hymns called Hymns was published separately.