Wednesday, February 8, 2017
LDS Hymn #65
(This confused me, since a couple of rhythms were wrong, and I wondered why the first time through he skipped the middle line unless he thought the two repeated lines unnecessary. Then I figured out he was playing the full introduction as suggested in the hymnal.)
Not an often-sung hymn in our congregations, even though it is written by Our Brother Phelps and included in the first hymnal. Perhaps it is that 2/2 time signature. Eep. Of the "normal" time signatures, I think I have discovered that one is my least favorite. Especially in a hymn like this when it has so many quarter notes, yet they aren't quarter notes. (Forgive my lack of musical theory skills and knowledge because I don't know how else to describe them.) The melody is extremely simple. And the basses get some very nice notes--my choir would be envious because I keep giving them high notes. Oops.
A nice praising song of our Lord, particularly the first 2 verses. The last 2 are more about being righteous so we can return to live with Him again. Also, this hymn could technically be shorter, since there are 3 lines, and line 2 and 3 are exactly the same in each verse. So one could find a melody that fit only line 1 and 2 of the song and make it work. (Oh! I found one!!) Apparently I played this in my early organ lesson days when I didn't have to worry so much on the pedal. I should really consider it for my choir on one of our easier months.
From the history book
Though included in the first hymnal, this song does not dwell on any of the hardships they were facing. It was simply about praising and rejoicing. She mentions how this one will appeal to those who love to sing hymns, particularly for the reference of singing praises in verse 1 and verse 4 (where we join a heavenly choir). Agreed. I as a lover of hymns and hymn singing particularly love those hymns that refer to singing praises. There is a fabulous paragraph she writes with a nod to us ward music directors, but I love her last line: "The words of this hymn are an excellent tonic for anyone who has fallen into the habit of half-hearted hymn-singing." Shame on them, though it happens too often. So I like that whether serious or slight jest, she addressed that. In verse 2, Brother Phelps simply stated in just 8 words the central message of Christianity in alluding to the Atonement and reminding us of its importance.
She talks about the rhythm and measures and such, but she used just enough theory jargon to put it out of my un-theory trained understanding. Brother Cornwall said "The rhythm of this hymn tine is the musical reason for its inclusion," and yet I feel that is the reason it is no longer sung! But well done to William Bradbury for something unique, even if I don't understand it.