What are the lyrics to ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’, the coronation hymn?
5 July 2023, 14:26 | Updated: 18 September 2023, 16:29
This ancient hymn will be sung during King Charles’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, more than 13 decades after it was written. Here are its lyrics.
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The historic hymn comes from the second part of the Urbs beata Jerusalem, a plainchant thought to have been written in either the 6th or 7th centuries.
While the hymn is featured in some of the oldest hymnals in the world, today’s modern-day translation and setting is a particular favourite of the royal family, with the new British monarch also having chosen the work for his wedding ceremony to first wife, Princess Diana in 1981.
Here’s everything we know about the ancient hymn which will be sung after Camilla Queen Consort is crowned alongside her husband.
Who wrote the lyrics to ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’?
The ancient hymn was translated into English from Latin by John Mason Neale, an Anglican hymn-writer and priest, in 1851.
During Neale’s lifetime, the scholar translated over 100 different hymns from languages including Latin and Greek.
Perhaps Neale’s most famous hymn is the Christmas carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’, the lyrics of which he translated from a Czech poem by Václav Alois Svoboda.
The second part of the Urbs beata Jerusalem, which ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’ comes from, would have been sung at daybreak at lauds, which is a morning service within the Christian Church. King Charles III’s coronation begins at 11am on Saturday 6 May, so the programming of this piece ties in with its historic significance.
Who wrote the music to ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’?
There are two tunes associated with the hymn ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’.
The first, which is being sung at the coronation of King Charles III, was written by Henry Purcell, and suitably is taken from his piece titled, ‘Westminster Abbey’.
Purcell himself is buried in the English cathedral where King Charles III’s coronation will be taking place.
The other musical setting to which this hymn is sometimes sung is titled ‘Regent Square’ by English organist Henry Smart.
What are the lyrics to ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’?
Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the Head and corner-stone,
chosen of the Lord, and precious
binding all the church in one,
Holy Sion’s help for ever,
and her confidence alone.
All that dedicated city,
dearly loved of God on high,
in exultant jubilation
pours perpetual melody,
God the One in Three adoring
in glad hymns eternally.
To this temple, where we call thee,
come, O Lord of Hosts, to-day;
with thy wonted loving-kindness
hear thy servants as they pray,
and thy fullest benediction
shed within its walls alway.
Here vouchsafe to all thy servants
what they ask of thee to gain,
what they gain from thee for ever
with the blessèd to retain,
and hereafter in thy glory
evermore with thee to reign.
Laud and honour to the Father,
laud and honour to the Son,
laud and honour to the Spirit,
ever Three, and ever One,
while unending ages run.