A month on the saints wouldn’t be complete without this favorite All Saint’s Day hymn. Written by Bishop William Walsham How (1823-1897), the lyrics are based on the great cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews 12:1. Since I have taken this as my life verse, it’s not surprising that I love this song. I hope our readers will, too.
English Bishop William How wrote the hymn, “For All the Saints,” in 1864 for All Saints Day, a day meant to honor departed saints, both known and unknown. This hymn celebrates the saints who went before us—”who from their labors rest.” It tells how God sustained them through difficult times—strengthened them to battle evil—brought them light in their darkest days. When I hear it, I think about that “great cloud of witnesses” the author of Hebrews mentions, as well as the many saints who have served my own church, St. Paul’s over the 190+ years it has been in existence. Guess what, most of them were members of the laity! Isaac Newton, the great physicist and astronomer, said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We, the laity today, have been enriched and (as my husband puts it) “subsidized” by many faithful generations of Christians. As you listen to this hymn, be thankful and think about what your part is in passing on the faith.