German, ; anon. Mark ; Luke —23; Ps.
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Lord of the nations! Glory and honor, Rev. Jude 25 Perhaps it is not unusual for the Christian to be distracted from his prayers and scriptural meditation by the beautiful tree that grows outside his study window or the moonbeam from the skylight in the night hour he normally dedicates to devotions. Your browser does not support this audio format. Congregational Singing by P. Munson and J.
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Learn from the Original In addition to mixes for every part, listen and learn from the original song. We don't know who wrote the text of the hymn; we don't know how long exactly it's been in currency. It seems to be a folk song that was used in various forms in different places in Germany — Silesia and Westphalia and such.
Wymond plays. Bill, you were remarking off the air that the tune and the arrangement are very romantic, and they are. It has that exuberant, passionate German romantic kind of feel to it as a tune, and very suitable for passionate devotional expression of love and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And of course that's what the text is about in the English translation that we have before us. Albert Edwards Bailey, the famous hymnologist, says about this hymn that a good deal of mythology has grown up around it. No one knows who translated it into English. One stanza did not appear in German until , while other stanzas of that version differ markedly from the original text which appeared first in But, Derek, I know that another German hymnologist gives a good deal more information about the background to the tune and its discovery, so maybe you would be willing to share with us a little about that.
Fairest Lord Jesus Hymn
Thomas: This is not a hymn that's very well known in Britain at all. Of course these days with the advent of the use of American hymn texts and hymnbooks, and internet and so on, it's certainly known. But it certainly wasn't a hymn that I remember singing. It's not one we sang in our school hymnbooks, and I think it wasn't until I got hold of The Trinity Hymnal back in the 's that I came across this hymn—which is surprising, I'm sure, to American listeners that such a well known hymn would be almost unknown.
Duncan: Well, it was introduced into American hymnals in the mid-nineteenth century and it caught on. And you can tell, with the sort of romantic sound of the tune, that it would have clicked with Victorians, although it's interesting that it would not have made itself into circulation into Britain in the same time, because I would have thought that there would have been a similar kind of appreciation from Victorians. But anyway, I interrupt. Go ahead and tell us more about it. Thomas: Well, according to McCutchan 1 the popularity of this hymn and the tune, the marriage of the hymn and the tune, dates from , when Richard Storrs Willis includes it in church chorales and choir studies — sounds like a wonderful read but Bill Wymond I'm sure will tell us more about that, because there's a fascinating account in McCutchan which only a musician could properly understand, I think, of the possible source of this tune.
It's just a beautiful tune, and so married now to these words, that there are some possible roots for this tune going back possibly to the seventeenth century, and possibly even before that. I was fascinated to learn that Franz Liszt seems to have utilized something similar to this tune in The Legend of St. Elizabeth , which he finished in But then there's a little account…"an unexpected treasure was discovered in in the guise of a Crusader's hymn.
It was found in the Westphalia amid a number of other curious relics, and according to the traditional text by which it was accompanied, this hymn used to be sung by the German pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem. And you and I were talking earlier how Germans certainly like the thought of pilgrimages to Jerusalem — the pietistic strand in German Christianity. And it may, therefore, be regarded as a national air of that time.
But Bill Wymond, I think, has some opinions about possibly this tune. I just think it's a perfect tune. It's hard to imagine that the tune wasn't actually composed for these words. Wymond: Isn't it fascinating to think about folk song tunes? We have this whole genre of American Negro spirituals which has so enriched our music, and I have always wondered, well, who was the first person to make up that tune? The legend — or the lore — is that they were sung as people were chopping cotton, working out in the fields.
And so one doesn't know, but somehow these things get spread as one worker goes from one farm to the other. And so it must have been with this particular tune. Someone at some point made this up, but nobody knows who did. And there was a search that some musicologists made, and they were looking at various hymn tunes that they thought might be the origin of this and none of them passed the test, because they all started out alike, but then as you got farther into the melody it varied so much that you couldn't say this was the first version of this tune.
I know that's not that interesting to you, but nevertheless the search was on. But nobody really knows where this came from.
But it does not sound like a Middle Ages tune to me — something that would have been sung while the Crusades were at their height. It does sound more like an eighteenth century or a nineteenth century folk tune to me. It has such simplicity about it, for one thing, and it has kind of an easy elegance about it which doesn't sound like the more forceful tunes of the 's or even the early 's. So that's why I think that it's a late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century tune. Duncan: Bill, you were talking about how we have come to be the inheritors of some of those Negro spirituals here in the United States that would have been used in the fields in the 's and in the 's, and presumably one reason that we have a lot of that material at our disposal today is that musicologists or people that were interested in tunes went out and recorded those, wrote them down.
And there's an interesting story similar to that connected to this tune. Apparently a musicologist wanted to hear some of the folk songs in an area, and he and a friend went out and started trying to sort of record tunes and such. Tell us a little bit about that. Wymond: Well, there were two German musicologists, Dr. Hoffman Heinrich August Hoffman von Fallerslebein was one of them, and the other was Ernst Friedrich Richter, and they were walking through the countryside in Silesia, which was a part of the German east border.
And it was in the summer, they say, of about , and toward the evening time they heard the people who were in the fields, who were called haywardens, singing this tune.