Hymn text by Theodulph of Orleans , ca. 760-821. View the full text of this hymn.

I’d like to consider as a whole the hymn “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”. By “as a whole” I really mean lyrics plus lyricist plus the dates in which he lived. This is hymn has a few years on the others in the book. Its author, Theodulph of Orleans (sometimes rendered as Theodulphe, or Theodulphus), served as a theological advisor in the court of Charlemagne. He was likely born in Spain and died in France, and would have written these lyrics in Latin, as religious texts would not be translated into regional vernaculars until the Reformation. In 1851 the lyrics were translated into English by John M. Neale.

I think this translation process is incredibly interesting. When it comes to translating poetry, you usually have to choose between rendering a literal translation that probably won’t rhyme, or adapting each line to preserve the original structure of the verse. Being myself no serious student of Latin (though not for want of trying), I cannot say with full confidence what school of thought Neale used to make his translation. What I can say is that when you consider all of this, it is remarkable how many children’s voices it captures in a single line.

“The lips of children made sweet Hosanas sing,” says the first verse. There’s our own native tongue, English, including all those of us who were ever Primary children, singing Primary songs about things we trusted in but did not comprehend. Backing up a step, in Theodoulph’s likely native Spanish we’d have los ninos, and in French les enfants, and tracking all the way back to Latin we’d have pueri singing Hosanas (and from there let’s not forget the Greek and the Hebrew origins of Hosana, which gives us Israelite children singing “a shout of fervent and worshipful praise”).

It almost makes the rest of the singers mentioned in the hymn seem less impressive- the angels, and the rest of us, with all these children bearing the Lord’s various names on their hearts and voices. In this way this hymn shows us space and time not unlike the endless reflection between two facing mirrors. Add to this the great love Christ has for children, and you have a choir that almost makes the other singers mentioned in the hymn- angels, the rest of us- seem almost, well, a little less impressive by contrast.

I think of a child I saw in Italy, a few years ago when I visited. He was crying out to his mother for attention, and it struck me so deeply that I wished I could record it in my mind to replay. I think of his plea, recognizable even to a foreigner who didn’t speak his language, and imagine his prayers. That boy may be raised Catholic, or agnostic, or atheist, or Latter-Day Saint, but my heart warms to know that when our children speak to God, in whatever way they understand, He understands them too. However they know Him, and in whatever language they raise their voices, He knows and hears them too, and His love for them is endless.

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