All Glory, Laud and Honour

Posted on 17th July 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle! (Psalm 24:7-8)

There is a wonderful story which has come down from the ninth century, and speaks of the origins of the great Palm Sunday hymn: All glory, laud and honour. Of course many now shake their heads at the story, and say it is inaccurate. These stories have a habit of sticking, though.

There was a custom in ancient Angers that there would be procession of clergy on Palm Sunday, with the king at the head. In 1821 this procession took place as normal, with King Louis the Pious leading the line in front of great crowds. This time, though, the king paused by the window of a prison cell.

From within the cell came the sound of the deposed Bishop of Orleans, Theodulph, singing a newly composed hymn based on a collection of Bible verses. The king was so moved by what he heard, he not only restored Theodulph to his post but also ordered that this hymn would be sung every Palm Sunday. That was the birth of All glory, laud and honour.

The hymn became a standard part of the service for Palm Sunday, and we know hymn was used each year in Hereford in the Middle Ages. The procession would go up to the gate in the city walls, which were closed. Seven choirboys would then “climb the summit” and sing the hymn in front of the surrounding crowds.

Over a thousand years on, from Angers to Hereford, the hymn still retains its place in Palm Sunday services. A powerful legacy of the prison cell.

All glory, laud, and honour
To Thee, Redeemer, King!
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet Hosannas ring,

Thou art the King of Israel
Thou David's Royal Son,
Who in the LORD'S name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.
All glory, &c.

The company of Angels
Is praising Thee on high,
And mortal men, and all things
Created make reply.
All glory, &c.

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went
Our praise and prayers and anthems
Before Thee we present.
All glory, &c.

To Thee before Thy Passion
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee now high exalted
Our melody we raise.
All glory, &c.

Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the praise we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.
All glory, &c.

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