This hymn, suitable for any saint's day, is a favourite of mine. The words, which contrast the passing nature of human ambition - even ambition for good - with the eternal nature of God's kingdom, are a source of inspiration to me when I find the ambitions of the world most confusing. The imagery, of the Great and the Good forming part of a great egalitarian heavenly choir, is very beautiful, and I find it strangely moving. The words are by James Montgomery (1829) and my preferred tune, Boyce, or Palms of Glory, by William Boyce. is an arrangement of the same theme as Halton Holgate, by the same composer and used for Firmly I Believe and Truly by John Henry Newman. It can also be sung to another tune called Palms of Glory, by Archbishop W D MacLagan.
Palms of glory, raiment bright,
Crowns which never fade away,
Gird and deck the saints in light -
Priests and kings and conquerors they.
But the conquerors bring their palms
To the Lamb amidst the throne
And proclaim in joyful psalms
Victory through his Cross alone.
Kings for harps their crowns resign,
Crying, as they strike the chords,
'Take the kingdom, it is thine,
King of Kings and Lords of Lords.'
Round the altar priests confess,
If their robes are white as snow,
'Twas the Saviour's righteousness
And his blood which made them so.
They were mortal once like us.
Ah! when we like them must die,
May our souls translated thus
Triumph, reign and shine on high.