Triforium of Angel Choir. Cathedral, Lincoln Gothic (Decorated) 1256-80 and Later (To c. 1320)
FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE KINGDOM: A HYMN TO ST. THOMAS MORE
Most of the saints do not have proper hymns in the Office: a multiplication of prop er hymns would be counterproductive. In most cases proper hymns are not needed; the common hymns are generally acceptable, and their singing is assisted by their relative familiarity. But in those cases where the saint is the patron saint of the parish, or partic ularly important to parish life, the lack of a proper hymn becomes pronounced. My parish, St. Patrick's in Washington, D.C., is frequented by lawyers from the Department of Justice and downtown law firms, and by national politicians, due to our location close to the White House; the devotion to St. Thomas More at the parish is widespread. The parish recently commissioned a marble statue of More, and I thought that in coordina tion with the dedication of the statue, a new proper hymn to St. Thomas More would be appropriate. Thus was born "Faithful Servant of the Kingdom," by Br. Andrew Hofer, O.P., a seminarian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C. The parish commissioned Br. Hofer to write the hymn, after examining other hynms that he has written, some of which have been published in the monthly magazine Magn icat. I give Br. Andrew free reign as to the meter of the hymn; at the time, we had planned on set ting the hymn to some well-known hymn tune. After the hymn was written, I searched for a hymn tune in 87870 that would suit the tightly-constructed form of the text: the most promising was NETTLETON, but I felt that this tune was too strongly associated with the hymn "God, We Praise You." I therefore decided to write a new hymn tune that would enhance the nuances of the beautiful text.
The result is published below. The tune is formed much like NETTLETON: the first, second, and fourth lines are constructed similarly, with a contrasting third line. This makes the tune fairly easy for a congregation to learn: indeed, the congregation at the statue dedication was able to sing the hymn heartily by the time we reached verse two.