All Saints Day: Remembering the Faithful Servants of Christ
All Saints Day honors all Christians who have gone to glory.
All Saints Day celebrates the lives of all Christians who have gone to glory. "For All the Saints" is a traditional hymn that honors them. Here is a little more information about the holiday and the song.
Honoring the Saints
November 1 is All Saints Day in Western Christianity. This often overlooked holiday honors the lives of faithful believers who have gone to glory -- from the apostles, reformers, and martyrs to our Christian loved ones who have reached heaven.
The tradition of All Saints Day dates back to ancient days and the first Christian martyrs. Unfortunately, many people know nothing about the holiday except for the fact that it follows Halloween.
Believers with reformation-shaped minds often ignore All Saints Day because of its association with Roman Catholicism. However, the holiday gives all Christians an opportunity to thank God for his grace, the only way by which someone can understand the gospel.
All Saints Day is a reminder that all believers are saints. Everyone who embraces God's way of salvation, by grace through faith in Christ alone, is called a saint. And we can pray directly to God through his son Jesus -- not to, through, or for the saints (Matthew 6:6 and 1 Timothy 2:5-6).
Hebrews 11 is known as a walk through the "Hall of Faith." It provides several examples of the "great cloud of witnesses" who testify to God's grace and faithfulness. Christians can learn a lot from these early saints who faithfully served the Lord.
The traditional hymn "For All the Saints" conveys the hope of God's saints on earth and in heaven. It encourages Christians to envision the millions of believers who are in the Lord's presence. And it reminds them of the promise of their own future, glorious day with Jesus.
For All the Saints
William Walsham How (pictured here) was a 19th century English bishop. He wrote "For All the Saints" as a processional hymn.
The song first appeared in print in 1864, in a book called Hymns for Saints' Days, and Other Hymns. The English composer Joseph Barnby provided the original melody, which he called "Sarum."
This melody served as the setting for How's song until the 1906 publication of The English Hymnal. The new hymnal chose a new setting by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. He called his piece "Sine Nomine" (a Latin phrase for without a name), in reference to All Saints Day.
Many people regard "For All the Saints" as one of the finest hymns of the 20th century. The song appears in most English and American hymnals.
Christian Hymn Lyrics
"For All the Saints" has eleven verses, and different versions of the song have minor variations. Many renditions omit the third, fourth, and fifth verses. Here are the first and last two verses:
"1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest / Who Thee by faith before the world confessed / They name, O Jesus, be forever blessed / Alleluia, Alleluia!
"2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might / Thou, Lord, their captain in the well fought fight / Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light / Alleluia, Alleluia!
"10. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day / The saints triumphant rise in bright array / The King of glory passes on his way / Alleluia, Alleluia!
"11. From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast / Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host / And singing to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost / Alleluia, Alleluia!"
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- Colson, Chuck. (October 31, 2007) "Honoring the Witnesses." BreakPoint. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Crain, Alex. (n.d.) "All Saints Day: November 1." Christianity Today. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Wikipedia contributors. (March 23, 2011) "For All the Saints." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- Wilson, Lawrence W. (November 1, 2012) "What Every Protestant Should Know About All Saints Day." Encouraging Pastors. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
© 2011 Annette R. Smith