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The text of this new hymn from the Lutheran Service Book is by Moir A.J. Waters. The music, “New Malden,” is by David McCarthy. The following information about the hymn was gleaned from The Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship.

Moir Waters was born in Central India in 1906 to Canadian parents. Waters’ father was a physician who founded a hospital in Rathan, India. When he was not yet a teen, Waters was sent back to Canada for his education. He graduated from University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s of Arts in 1928, and finished Emmanuel College in 1932. Afterward he was ordained and served briefly in two churches, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto, and Newton-on-Ayr in Scotland. In 1933, Waters served at First United Church in London, Ontario, where he remained through 1939. Then Waters followed his parents’ footsteps, working as a missionary for two years in India and teaching in a seminary in Indore, India, for another three years. Upon his return to Canada, Pastor Waters served in Toronto, British Columbia and Ontario. He was honored with a Doctor of Divinity in 1968. He retired in London, Ontario, and died in 1980.

Waters wrote the words to “Herald, Sound the Note of Judgment” in 1968 for the Robinson Memorial Church’s dedication of a new window depicting Jesus’ baptism. Pastor Waters was unable to find a hymn which properly described John the Baptist as the herald of Christ. So he penned these words, which were originally sung to the tune “Regent Square” (“Angels from the Realms of Glory”). It was sung at the dedication service by the congregation with organ and trumpet accompaniment.

David McCarthy was born in 1931 at Pentre Broughton in North Wales. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theology, then a Master of Arts from Cambridge University. He worked as an assistant English teacher originally, then, in 1960, became director of music at Woodhouse Grove School near Bradford in Yorkshire.

McCarthy’s “New Malden” is the tune the Lutheran Service Book suggests for “Herald, Sound the Note of Judgment.” He wrote the melody for a school chapel service. McCarthy was inspired to write this tune by a series of programs for youth and weekend music courses written by John Farmer, a musician from New Malden (a town in suburban Surrey, England). McCarthy called him “one of the most far-sighted and devoted of Methodist musicians.” “New Malden” was first printed in 1971 in Pratt Green’s Twenty-six Hymns.

Isaiah 40:3 states “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” This verse prophesying the ministry of John the Baptist is described in the hymn by Pastor Waters. Each verse starts with the words “Herald, sound the note,” referring to John the Baptist. Verse one speaks of judgement, verse two gladness; verse three is about pardon, and the final verse is about triumph. The refrain states: “Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Savior king, is come!”

We hope you will enjoy this new hymn from the Lutheran Service Book!

Enjoy more information about new hymns or the hymns you already love as we explore the Lutheran hymnody. Use this month’s hymn in your devotions and get to know the tune. We’ll be singing it a few times in worship over the next month or so and adding it to our growing congregational repertoire! Information for this article came from The Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (Augsburg Fortress Press) and the Hymn Stories series (Kregel Press).