Monday, January 2, 2017
LDS Hymn #215
Our one New Year's hymn. Well, there are a couple of others that go well with recommitting and such, but this is the only one that actually talks about an old year dying and a new one beginning. But this song stood out to me for its minor chord ending in verse 1 and 2, but resolving in the last verse, as well as being written by a very well-known poet--Alfred Tennyson. Now playing this song is a bit of a beast. 6/8 time signature in a Key that is not C and then has accidentals, octave stretch of my poor little hands, and dotted rhythms in an already moving part. But fabulous to sing!
The lyrics, written by an honored poet, are expectedly poetical. Full of imagery and one that reminds me of those beautiful bells I would hear all over Europe. Love the 3rd verse!!
From the history book
Tennyson mourned the death of his closest friend by working out his grief in long poem consisting of 131 shorter poems. This hymn is one of those poems showing his determination to leave disappointment behind. The composer Crawford Gates remembered his aunt reading him Tennyson's poems. Later in the U.S. Navy in WWII, he prayed in thanks to Heavenly Father when the killing stopped with the war ending. A few days later he wrote music to this poem that he saw as "encouragement to real repentance." His former missionary companion, in Hawaii recovering from a war injury in Okinawa was the first to hear the tune and sang the hymn with Brother Gates many times. He unfortunately died two days later in an accident when he slipped on the edge of a waterfall. Brother Gates named the tune after his friend to honor his memory, while the text also worked in honoring his friend. I knew absolutely nothing any of this background, and I find it very touching.