Saint Andrew’s hymn

Our commissioning hymn this Sunday is nick-named Saint Andrew’s hymn due to its second verse: “As of old, Saint Andrew heard it, by the Galilean lake, turned from home and toil and kindred, leaving all for His dear sake.” Here is its back-story.

Bradford Congregational Church is only a few miles south of Vermont’s Caledonia County, so the old hymns of the Scots-Irish are a big part of our tradition. The poem “Jesus Calls Us, O’Er the Tumult” was written by Irish hymn writer and poet Cecil F. Alexander. She (yes … she) also wrote:

“There Is a Green Hill Far Away”
“All Things Bright and Beautiful”
“Once in Royal David’s City”

Two legends vie for the official reason why Andrew is Scotland’s patron saint:

  • One legend claims he came to Scotland and built a church in Fife which is now called St Andrews.
  • The other legend is that after the death of Andrew, several of his relics (bones), were brought to Fife sometime in the 4th century.

This hymn, set to the tune “Galilee” by William Jude, is the official hymn of the U.S. Episcopalian Brotherhood of Saint Andrew, a fraternal society devoted to evangelism, scripture study and service.

Mark 1:14-20 is called the Beginning of the Galilean Ministry, in which Jesus begins to pull together his inner circle of disciples, walking up to them and saying, “Follow me.”

How fitting then are Alexander’s words: Day by day His sweet voice soundeth saying, ‘Christian, follow me.’  … Savior, may we hear Thy call … serve and love Thee best of all.”