Palm Sunday would not be the same without a processional with palm branches and the singing of “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” The hymn connects the events of that Sunday with our continuing celebration of Holy Week and Easter: “To thee before thy passion they sang their hymns of praise; to thee, now high exalted our melody we raise.”
The familiar tune is named St. Theodulph in honor of the Bishop of Orleans who wrote this text around 820 CE while he was imprisoned at Angers, France. Theodulph was imprisoned for conspiring against King Louis the Pious. There is an old (probably apocryphal) story that in a Palm Sunday procession King Louis passed the prison and overheard the bishop singing this hymn. According to the legend, it was the repentant king who decreed that this be sung on all subsequent Palm Sundays.
The ancient text had 39 couplets. At the end of several updates and transcriptions, it was 19th century John Mason Neale who prepared our current version of the hymn. Neale’s name is attached to at least two dozen hymns in our Hymnbook 1982.
Organists know this tune as “Valet will ich dir geben” (“I want to bid you farewell”). Melchior Teschner composed it in the 17th century for a hymn on dying. J.S. Bach and many other composers wrote chorale preludes on this tune. The hymn setting also appears in the St. John Passion.
Our Hymnbook uses a setting by William Monk, another of those 19th century giants of English Church Music. Monk was the famous editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern and at one time the choirmaster at King’s College. We have over 20 of his tunes and settings in our hymnal.
Here is a somewhat flawed 2013 recording of “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” from a service at King’s College.
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today: