According to Raymond Glover, Editor of the Hymnal 1982, “the use of the hymn “All Glory Laud and Honor” at the procession on the Sunday of the Passion has been a strong tradition in the Episcopal Church since the appearance of the hymn in the 1871 edition of the Hymnal”. In fact, both the words and music, as well as the tradition go back even further.
The original historic chant tune for this hymn text is one of the oldest tunes on record, being one of only four medieval chant tunes with surviving notation of both pitch and rhythm. It was probably written in the sixth-eighth century and was found in manuscript fragments from the ninth-tenth century. As such, it gives us the best idea of how chant was sung in the medieval church. The tune we now use for this great hymn is Valet will ich dir geben which was written by Melchior Teschner in Fraustadt Germany in 1613 and has grown in use ever since.
The text of “All Glory Laud and Honor” was written by St. Theodulph, Bishop of Orleans. The story goes, albeit unlikely, that
Theodulph was imprisoned at Angers for conspiring to overthrow King Louis I, which Theodulph denied. On Palm Sunday, 821, Louis the Pious, King of France, was at Angers and took part in the usual procession of the clergy and laity. As the procession passed the place where Theodulph was incarcerated he stood at the open window of his cell, and amid the silence of the people, sung this hymn which he had newly composed. The king was so much delighted with the hymn that he at once ordered St. Theodulph to be set at liberty and restored to his seat, and ordained that henceforth the hymn should always be used in processions on Palm Sunday.
For those of you who think our services last too long, it should be noted that St. Theodulph’s original hymn, written in Latin, had no less than 38 verses. While even I am glad that over the years hymnal editors have pared it down to the five we now commonly sing, I leave you with the one I dearly wish had not been left out.
Be thou, O Lord, the Rider,
And we the little ass
That to God’s Holy City
Together we may pass.