Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart

from by Todd Billingsley

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Edward Plumptre, chaplain and professor at King’s College in London, wrote this hymn to serve as a processional hymn for a choir festival at Peterborough Cathedral in the mid-nineteenth century.
The tune we sing however is not the original tune Plumptre composed, but one composed by Arthur Messiter. Messiter, born in Somersetshire, England, immigrated to the United States in 1863 where he served as organist at Trinity Church in New York City. You may know Trinity Church due to its location at the end of Wall Street, or from the thrilling climax of the movie National Treasure. Messiter brought the British cathedral tradition of music to Trinity Church, which is where he composed the tune for this hymn in 1883.

Miami Springs Baptist Church was the first church my father served as a minister of music fresh out of seminary. The building was beautiful––unlike any church I had ever seen––and featured a towering concave curved roof that appeared to rest atop nothing but glass windows. It was dubbed Parker’s Pagoda, playfully named after the pastor who served with my father, Dr. Hankins Parker.

As a kindergartner, I loved exploring the building. I’d roam the halls, explore the balcony, and play on the rooftop deck. Even at night when the building was scary and dark, I told Dad I wanted to be a minister of music so I could lock up the church. On Saturday mornings Dad would rehearse Sunday morning’s hymns with the pianist and organist, and I’d set out with my imaginary tiger slung over my shoulder. One Saturday as I headed back to the sanctuary after exploring, the hallways reverberated with the magnificent sound of my dad singing along with the pianist and organist as they rehearsed Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. The time, place, the familiar aroma of the church building, and hearing this majestic hymn is forever etched into my memory.


Rejoice ye pure in heart;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your glorious banner wave on high,
The cross of Christ your King.

Rejoice, rejoice,
Rejoice, give thanks and sing.

Bright youth and snow crowned age,
Strong men and maidens meek,
Raise high your free, exultant song,
God’s wondrous praises speak.

Rejoice, rejoice,
Rejoice, give thanks and sing.

Yes, on through life's long path,
still singing as ye go;
From youth to age, by night and day,
In gladness and in woe.

Rejoice, rejoice,
Rejoice, give thanks and sing.

Still lift your standard high,
Still march in firm array,
As warriors through the darkness toil,
Till dawns the golden day.

Rejoice, rejoice,
Rejoice, give thanks and sing.


from Hymn Anthems, released April 30, 2014




Todd Billingsley New York, New York

All proceeds from recordings sold on Todd Billingsley's website goes toward supporting Angel Flight, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free air travel to medical patients with health and or financial crises.

Todd Billingsley is a volunteer outreach ambassador and pilot for Angel Flight.
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