A Hymn on Peace

"A Hymn on Peace" by Abraham Wood appeared in 1784, the year after the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War. The poem, unattributed and of untraced authorship, had been published earlier in Andrew Law's Collection of Hymns (Cheshire, Conn., 1783), where is was designated to be sung to Wood's psalm tune "Worchester." "A Hymn on Peace" circulated in an unusual form: not, as was customary, as part of a larger collection of sacred pieces, but as the sole contents of an eight-page pamphlet—one of the rare occasional pieces to appear in pre-Federal America. It was never reprinted nor anthologized in any American tune books. The Boston Independent Chronicle, May 6, 1784, advertised it as "just published" and to be sold by Wood in Northboro "and by William Billings, near Liberty Pole, Boston," thereby providing the only known link between America's leading psalmodist-composers of the Revolution.

"A Hymn on Peace" packs considerable variety into its through-composed setting of eight stanzas of
short-meter verse (that is, stanzas with lines of six, six, eight, and six syllables). After a beginning stanza set in block chords, a fuguing section enlivens the second; a tempo increase and frequent text repetition heighten the third; a brief modulation to the relative minor and another fuguing section appear in the fourth; a return to block chords distinguishes the fifth and sixth, which are full of textural and declamatory variety and make a rousing conclusion.

--New World Records, Liner Notes for The Birth of Liberty.

Date: 1784Composer: Abraham Wood

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A Hymn on Peace

Behold arrayed in light,
And by Divine command,
Fair Peace, the child of Heav’n, descends
To this afflicted land.

Like the bright morning star
She leads, O glorious day,
And o’er this western world extends
Her all-reviving ray.

Your swords to plowshares turned,
Your fields with plenty crowned
Shall laugh and sing, and freedom spread
The voice of gladness round.

O sing a new-made song,
To God your hymn address,
He ruled the hearts of mighty kings
And gave our arms success.

He check’d our haughty foe,
And bade the contest cease,
Here and no further shall thou go;
Be all the world at peace.

No more shall savage war
Fall on the hostile band,
No more shall suff’ring captives mourn,
Or blood pollute the land.

Confess Jehovah’s pow’r
And magnify His name.
Let all the world, with one accord,
His wondrous works proclaim.

Let us with hearts devout
Declare what we have seen,
And to our children’s children tell
How good the Lord hath been.

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