All glory, laud and honour

All glory, laud and honour. Theodulf of Orleans* (ca. 760- ca. 821), translated by John Mason Neale* (1818-1866).

This is a translation of the Latin hymn, ‘Gloria, laus et honor’*, attributed to St Theodulf (or Theodulph), who was bishop of Orleans, France. During the reign of Louis I (the son of Charlemagne), Theodulf was imprisoned in Angers for some time beginning in 818. According to Clichtoveus in his Elucidatorium Ecclesiasticum (Paris, 1516), the imprisoned bishop sang the hymn from his cell when the king of France, Louis the Pious, was passing, and the king forthwith ordered his release. As JJ pointed out (p. 426), this could not have been true: the date given for what he calls ‘this pretty story’ is 821, but Louis the Pious is not known to have visited Angers after 818. 

However, JJ describes the attribution to Theodulf as ‘highly probable’. Pocknee goes further: 'While the legend that the King heard Theodulph singing this hymn out of his prison window at Angers on Palm Sunday, and thereby ordered the bishop’s release, may be fictional, there can be no doubt that it was composed at Angers by Theodulph’ (1966, p. 64). In a shortened form, the hymn became used in Palm Sunday processions in medieval breviaries. In some Uses it seems to have been sung by choirboys, either stationed strategically in the church or at points along the procession route.

Neale’s version in Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences (1851) kept to the Latin metre beginning ‘Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, rex Christi redemptor’: Glory, and honour, and laud be to Thee, King Christ the Redeemer!’ It was revised to a more singable metre for the Hymnal Noted Part II (1854), beginning ‘Glory, and laud, and honour’ and with an additional stanza:

Receive instead of Palm-boughs,
    Our victory o’er the foe,
That in the conquerer’s triumph
    This strain may ever flow.

Stanza 3 lines 1-4 of this text were hypermetrical:

Thou wast hastening to thy Passion,
    When they raised their hymns of praise:
Thou art reigning in Thy glory,
    When our melody we raise.

A trial edition of A&M (1859) altered the first line to ‘All glory, laud, and honour’, and the First Edition (1861) printed a text in 6 eight-line stanzas, beginning with the four lines

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

and continuing with ‘Thou art the King of Israel’. The first stanza is used as a refrain after each stanza that follows.

Neale noted that another stanza was sung until the 17th century ‘at the pious quaintness of which we can scarcely avoid a smile’:

Be Thou, O Lord, the rider,
    And we the little ass;
That to God’s Holy City
    Together we may pass.

The words have become closely associated with the tune ST THEODULPH, known also as VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN, by Melchior Teschner* (1584-1635), set to the 8-line stanzas in A&M. This requires the final refrain to conclude the hymn at a fine point half way through the tune, but that has not prevented this hymn from becoming perhaps the best known of all hymns for Palm Sunday. The naming of the tune is an indication of the marriage of tune and words.

JRW/Emma Hornby

Further Reading

C.E. Pocknee, ‘Three Latin Hymns’, Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 106 (Volume 6 no. 4, April, 1966), pp.63-4.

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