The text and tune and this hymn are both well known since they first appeared together in English Hymnal (published 1906). Ralph Vaughan Williams – editor of English Hymnal – paired a medieval French melody known as PICARDY with an ancient Greek text, translated into English by Gerard Moultrie (1829-1885).
The text came from the Liturgy of St James – one of the oldest known liturgies of the Christian church. The earliest manuscript containing the liturgy is kept by the Vatican and dates from around the 9th century, but it is thought that the liturgy had been observed as far back as the first century AD. The manuscript contains musically notated texts, and also hymns. One of them is the ‘Cherubic Hymn’, which was sung at communion. Moultrie translated this ancient Christian hymn text as ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’.
PICARDY, a tune associated with ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’.