All my hope on God is founded

All my hope on God is foundedJoachim Neander* (1650-1680), translated by Robert Bridges* (1844-1930).

Joachim Neander’s ‘Meine Hoffnung stehet feste’* was published in A und Ω. Joachimi Neandri Glaub- und Liebesübung: auffgemuntert durch einfältige Bundes Lieder und Danck-Psalmen (Bremen, 1680) where it was entitled ‘Der nach dem Essen Danckende’ (‘Grace after food’). Bridges’s free translation appeared in the Yattendon Hymnal Part III (1898), in five stanzas, with its 1680 tune, labelled ‘German Proper Melody set by H.E.W. [Harry Ellis Wooldridge*]’. That tune was described by Neander as ‘already known’; it is customarily named after the hymn, MEINE HOFFNUNG. Stanza 2 was frequently altered in the second half of the 20th century to avoid ‘Pride of man’, but some books, for example A&MCP, retained Bridges’s text. In this hymn his archaic language and inverted syntax are seen at their finest, giving grandeur and dignity to the idea of trust in God rather than in the transient works of human beings:

All my hope on God is founded;
  He doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
  Only good and only true.
      God alone,
      He alone
  Calls my heart to be his own.
Pride of man and earthly glory,
  Sword and crown betray his trust;
What with care and toil he buildeth,
  Tower and temple, fall to dust.
      But God’s power,
      Hour by hour,
  Is my temple and my tower.
God’s great goodness ay endureth,
  Deep his wisdom, passing thought:
Spelndour, light, and life attend him,
  Beauty springeth out of nought.
      From his store
  New-born worlds rise and adore.
Daily doth the almighty giver
  Bounteous gifts on us bestow;
His desire our soul delighteth,
Pleasure leads us where we go.
      Love doth stand
      At his hand;
  Joy doth wait on his command.
Still from man to God eternal
  Sacrifice of praise be done,
High above all praises praising
    For the gift of Christ his Son.
      Christ doth call
      One and all:
Ye who follow shall not fall.   

Surprisingly, the hymn did not appear in EH or in SofP, but it was included in SofPE, and has since become widely used in many countries. It received a further boost with the composition of a second fine tune, MICHAEL, by Herbert Howells*. Howells is said to have received a request in a letter one morning for a new tune to these words from Dr Thomas Fielden, Director of Music at Charterhouse, and to have composed the tune without leaving his breakfast table. It appeared in The Clarendon Hymn Book* (1936), and the splendid marriage of words and tune was the primary reason for the inclusion of the hymn in some modern books, such as H82VU prints four stanzas alongside another translation by Fred Pratt Green* beginning ‘All my hope is firmly grounded’, presumably to avoid Bridges’s old-fashioned but glorious rhetoric.


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