William Billings
(1746 - 1800)

Billings : Hear, hear O heavens : illustration

Hear, hear O heavens
(S.A.T.B. + reduction)
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An anthem for fast day from Billings' Continental Harmony, 1794. The reduction should be reserved for rehearsal. I have attempted to preserve the differences in relative speed shewn in the original. Billings' own absolute tempi are well documented (generally a pulse of c. 60 per minute in this piece) but have been increased, more readily to accord with the modern audience's attention span.
Lyrics: Isaiah, ch.1, v.2-4,16-18

Hear, hear, O heav'ns, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
Ah, Sinful nation.
The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Ah, sinful nation.
A people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corruptors: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked One of Israel unto anger.
Ah, sinful nation.
Wash ye, make ye clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow, do justice, love mercy, walk humbly before God.
Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins they be scarlet, they shall be as wool, though they be red like crimson, yet they shall be as white as snow.