O Jesus, I Have Promised (ANGEL’S STORY)

“O Jesus, I Have Promised” was written by the Anglican cleric John Ernest Bode (1816-1874), with the accompanying hymn tune “ANGEL’S STORY” written by Arthur Henry Mann (1850-1929), organist and director of music at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, from 1876-1929 and founder of its renowned Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols since 1918.

The hymn’s text, written by Bode for the Confirmation of his children in 1866, was first published in 1868 as a leaflet by the Anglican mission organization, SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), with the title “Hymn for the Newly Confirmed.” When later published in the second edition of the renowned Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875), its success was assured. Indeed, more than 50 years later, composer and hymnal editor Percy Dearmer noted its popularity to the point of overuse in his Songs of Praise Discussed (1933): “Bishops have been known to implore their clergy that this hymn should not be sung at all the Confirmations they attend.”

O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end;
Be thou forever near me, my Master and my friend;
I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide.

In this arrangement, following an introduction based on melodic fragments, A.H. Mann’s lovely tune is presented three times: 1) by trumpets alternating on the melody accompanied by horn, trombone, and tuba; 2) by trio of horn, trombone, and tuba; and 3) following a modulating transition, by full ensemble with melodic ornamentation/variation in the first trumpet part.

Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba) — $12.99