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The "sanctus" at the end of "On Zion's Glorious Summit" in "Songs of the Church."
Voices Only
Photo by Erik Tryggestad

Voices only: That final ‘sanctus’ in ‘On Zion’s Glorious Summit’

Video from west Tennessee congregation highlights the beautiful end of a classic hymn.

Welcome to Voices only, your occasional dose of great a cappella.

I just came across this clip from the Henderson Church of Christ, which meets in west Tennessee just next to the campus of Freed-Hardeman University. During the school year the church hosts a 5:45 p.m. service for students. (I attended it a few years ago with Milton Sewell, chancellor of FHU and board member of The Christian Chronicle. We also ate at Jacks Creek Bar-B-Que. Best pulled pork ever!)

The church had 903 folks present for its first college service of the semester. And the singing in this clip is magnificent. I would be struggling to hit the high tenor notes myself, but the students handle it beautifully.

(Unfortunately, I’m having trouble embedding the video in this post. Click on the screenshot below or follow this direct link to the video so you can see the full-screen version.)

I particularly like that this clip highlights the “Sanctus” at the end of John Kent’s classic hymn, “On Zion’s Glorious Summit” from the mid-1800s. I thought that this final part of the song was called a “coda” but I grabbed my official copy of “Songs of the Church” edited by Alton H. Howard and it’s in there as “Sanctus.” I believe that refers to a hymn that traditionally begins with words such as “Holy, holy, holy.” You music and church scholars out there can fill me in.

I’m also trying to remember if there are any other church songs I grew up singing that have an addendum like this. I can’t think of any right away. If you know of any examples, post them in the comments.

And if that snippet left you yearning for the full song, I’m happy to oblige. This is from a Church of Christ in Alabama 10 years ago:

What’s your favorite a cappella song? Send us a video link and a short description of what the song means to you. We might use your selection in a future Voices Only.


Filed under: a cappella A Cappella Hymns Christian university Classic hymn Classic hymns College Bible class Freed-Hardeman University On Zion's Glorious Summit Voices Only

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