Whence Mercy Flows
Instrumentation: SATB and optional keyboard
Text: Matthew Bridges (1800-1894)
Suitable for choirs of all ability levels.
Suitable for worship or concert performance.
In the spring of 2017, my family began attending an Anglican church just south of our home in Cologne, Germany. While trying to get used to the structure and use of the Anglican hymnal, we were presented with a familiar hymn with verses that we had never encountered. The hymn, written by the English author Matthew Bridges, was "Crown Him with Many Crowns," almost exclusively sung to the tune, DIADEMATA, and very well known to me and my wife, both of us having sung for many years as professional liturgical musicians. However, the Anglican hymnal included a striking verse neither of us had ever seen:
Crown him the Virgin's Son,
the God incarnate born,
whose arm those crimson trophies won
which now his brow adorn:
Fruit of the mystic Rose,
as of that Rose the Stem;
the Root whence mercy ever flows,
the Babe of Bethlehem.
Seeing it's instant potential for setting, I tucked this text away until the appropriate season. To the highly symbolic imagery of this verse, I tacked on more familiar text:
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.
and juxtaposed it to mirror the intermingled sadness and joy of the Nativity - that the child is born of the mystic rose to face a horrible end for the salvation of all.