« 26R O Source Divine and Life of All | Main | 28R God of the Earth, the Sky, the Sea »

April 04, 2005

27R Where Ancient Forests Round Us Spread

Original Title: "Where Ancient Forests Widely Spread," Andrews Norton (1833), WAINWRIGHT, L.M., Richard Wainwright; New Title: "Where Ancient Forests Round Us Spread," rev. REH (2005), AGINCOURT (DEO GRATIAS), Traditional English Melody (1415). Andrews Norton, an American Unitarian, is famous for having said that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s [Harvard] Divinity School Address represented "the newest form of infidelity." As beloved a figure as Emerson is for many, Norton's provocation takes nothing away from his own place in Unitarian Universalist hymnody. The full form of the hymn was anthologized in 1900 by Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833-1908) in his An American Anthology 1787-1900, as no. 51, where it is called "Hymn for the Dedication of a Church." In that collection, it began "Where ancient forests round us spread," as does the revised version here. Compare 2 Kings 19:22-24. Genesis 28:17, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." The Universe is filled by God, in God "we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28.; see also Psalm 84. "The Lord has blessed the household of Obededom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God," 2 Samuel 6:12, suggesting, as in the lyrics, there are places where "human thought burns clearer" given their chosen status. Tradition has it that the AGINCOURT was written to laud the victory of the English at Normandy. The hymn appears in neither Singing the Living Tradition, nor in The New Century Hymnal.


1. Where an-cient for-ests round us spread,
where bends~the cat'-ract's o-cean fall,
on the lone moun-tain's si-lent head,
there are your tem-ples, God of all!

2. Be-neath the dark-blue, mid-night arch,
whence my~riad suns pour down their rays,
where pla-nets trace their cease-less march,
O Life! we praise you as we gaze.

3. All space is ho-ly, for all space
is filled~by you; And hu-man thought
burns clear-er in some chos-en place,
where your own words of love are taught.

4. May we be taught, and may we know
a faith~your ser-vants knew of old
which on-ward bears through weal and woe,
till Death the gates of heaven un-fold.

5. Nor we a-lone, may those whose brow
shows yet~no trace of hu-man cares,
here-aft-er stand where we do now,
and raise to you still hol-ier prayers!

Word Score
PDF Score

Noteworthy Composer File

All materials may be reproduced for non-profit local and congregational use. We request notification of use, in addition to notification of any changes made when materials are used so we might benefit from the insight of others. Any materials used or reproduced in any way must bear the notation "(c) 2005 Richard E. Hurst, for non-profit local and congregational use only, all other rights reserved."

Posted by rehurst at April 4, 2005 11:11 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)