This is the first hymn in celebration (if that is the appropriate word) of Good Friday. Supposedly the day Jesus Christ was crucified.
The lyrics are not particularly amazing, but the tune is pretty cool. I always like a minor hymn.
This hymn is a bit challenging for Hymprovisation as it’s kind of hard to exactly tell what the keys should be. It starts in G minor, modulates to G major for a bit, then to (maybe) d major, back to d minor, and finishes in d major. All within the space of 15 measures.
However, you can mostly play in G minor for the whole thing, if you are a bit careful.
Born in London, he was the eldest child in the composer Samuel Wesley‘s second family, which he formed with Sarah Suter having separated from his wife Charlotte. Samuel Sebastian was the grandson of Charles Wesley. His middle name derived from his father’s lifelong admiration for the music of Bach.
Famous in his lifetime as one of his country’s leading organists and choirmasters, he composed almost exclusively for the Church of England, which continues to cherish his memory.
One notable feature of his career is his aversion to equal temperament, an aversion which he kept for decades after this tuning method had been accepted on the Continent and even in most of England. Such distaste did not stop him from substantial use of chromaticism in several of his published compositions.
While at Winchester Cathedral Wesley was largely responsible for the Cathedral’s acquisition in 1854 of the Father Willis organ which had been exhibited at The Great Exhibition, 1851. The success of the Exhibition organ led directly to the award of the contract to Willis for a 100-stop organ for St George’s Hall, Liverpool built in 1855. Wesley was the consultant for this major and important project, but the organ was, arguably, impaired for some years by Wesley’s insistence that it was initially tuned to unequal temperament.
Wesley, with Father Willis, can be credited with the invention of the concave and radiating organ pedalboard, but demurred when Willis proposed that it should be known as the “Wesley-Willis” pedalboard. However, their joint conception has been largely adopted as an international standard for organs throughout the English-speaking world and those exported elsewhere.
The tune for this one is actually called, “NAAR MIT ØIE” and was composed or arranged by a Norwegian composer and collector of Norwegian folk songs named Ludvig M. Lindeman:
Ludvig Mathias Lindeman was born in Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway. He was the seventh of ten children born to Ole Andreas Lindeman (1769–1857) and Anna Severine Hickmann (1782–1844). In 1833 he was sent to Oslo to take his final exams and then studied theology at the university. In 1839, Lindeman succeed his elder brother, Jacob Andreas Lindeman (1805–1846), as cantor and organist of the Oslo Cathedral. Lindeman was in the position for 48 years until his death in 1887.
Lindeman was a contributor to Jørgen Moe‘s song and folk-ballad collection, Samling af Sange, Folkeviser og Stev i norske Alumuedialekter (1840), putting together the melody supplement to the volume at Bishop Moe’s request. The following year, he published his own selection of Norwegian folk melodies, Norske Fjeldmelodier harmonisk bearbeidede for Pianoforte (1841). In 1848, he applied for a university grant to support a trip in the hill country in order to recorded folk melodies. Later he made two collecting trips, in 1851 and 1864. The first trip was to Telemark, Hardanger, Bergen and Hallingdal and the last to Lillehammer. In all, he collected about 3,000 melodies and lyrics. He published Ældre og nyere norske Fjeldmelodier “Earlier and more recent Norwegian mountain melodies,” in twelve-volumes during 1853–1863. This first edition contained 540 melodies, but Lindeman supplemented the corpus with Halvhundrede norske Fjeldmelodier (“Fifty Norwegian maountain melodies,” 1862).
When in 1871, the major new organ in the Royal Albert Hall in London was inaugurated, Lindeman was invited to perform, along with other noted organists including Anton Bruckner and Camille Saint-Saëns. Lindeman was appointed Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav during 1870. Between 1871 and 1875, he published Melodier til Landstads Salmebog, containing music for use within the Church of Norway. In 1873, he was invited to write music for the coronation in Trondheim of King Oscar II of Sweden and Queen Sophie. In 1876, he wrote a cantata for the inauguration of Bygdøy chapel. In 1883, together with his son Peter, he started the Organist School in Oslo. The Conservatory was in operation until 1973, when the Norwegian Academy of Music was established. To honour the memory of the Lindeman family the biggest concert hall at the Academy is named the Lindeman Hall. Ludvig Mathias Lindeman died in Oslo at 75 years of age. He was buried at Oslo Cathedral. In 1912, a bust of Lindeman was erected at the church.
Along with the words Jesus Christ supposedly uttered on the cross, there are 21 verses to this short hymn.
To get some of the feel for that repetition, I decided I would play the melody once for each spoken part on the cross, and once between each utterance. I also decided I would read the “words on the cross” along with playing the hymn.
Count your lucky stars, it only ends up being 15 times through the hymn.
Well, this is very definitely an American Lutheran Hymn, as its composer just died in 2007.
Sateren, Leland B. 94, Edina, died Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. Sateren, a renowned composer and conductor, served as chairman of the Augsburg College Department of Music from 1950 to 1973, and as director of the Augsburg Choir from 1950 until his retirement in 1979. Survived by devoted wife, Pauline; sons, Terry, Mark (Judi), Roald (Shelley); daughter, Kirsten Bergherr (Jon); and grandchildren, Stacy Lindholm (Pete), Anne Sateren Burow (Matt), Ben Bergherr, Sara Bergherr, Erik Sateren, and Anders Sateren. Sateren is also survived by sisters, Margaret Trautwein, Norma (Ray) Anderson, Sylvia (Dean) Elness; and brother, Donald Sateren. The family would like to thank the staff at Redeemer Residence in Minneapolis for their concern and care. Memorial service at 11 am Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Augsburg College Foss Chapel. Visitation will be from 9:30-10:30 am. Memorials preferred to the Leland B. Sateren Choral Scholarship Fund at Augsburg.
The hymn itself appears to be popular in Evangelical Lutheran circles, but not much outside of those, even though it is a pretty neat melody and arrangement.
Please turn to number 79 and join with the Clarinets in “Christ, The Life of All the Living.
First Line: Christ, the Life of all the Living
Name: JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN.
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: With dignity and movement
Music: Darmstadt Gesangbuch, 1687
Text: Ernst Christoph Homburg, 1605-81
Tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1829-78 a.
For the last few hymns, I’ve only been playing the melody part twice. On one of them I play the first and third verse but skip the second. The on the second I’ve been playing the first verse, improvise the second, then play the third.
For this hymn I tried something new, playing the first and third verse for two parts and then adding a third part where I only improvise the second verse.
It’s a little more work, but it gives me more control over the levels of the solo section as it relates to the harmony parts.
It also makes it a little easier to get in the right frame of mind for improvising.
I also had been using embedded soundcloud links to post the songs. Turns out there’s a limit to how many songs you can have for free on soundcloud. So I went back and replaced the soundcloud embeds with mp3s and the native worpress player.
Homburg, Ernst Christoph, was born in 1605, at Mihla, near Eisenach. He practised at Nauraburg, in Saxony, as Clerk of the Assizes and Counsellor. In 1648 ho was admitted a member of the Fruitbearing Society, and afterwards became a member of the Elbe Swan Order founded by Rist in 1660. He died at Naumburg, Juno 2, 1681. (Koch, iii. 388, 392; Allegemeine Deutsche Biographie, xiii. 43, 44.)
By his contemporaries Homburg was regarded as a poet of the first rank. His earlier poems, 1638-1653, were secular, including many love and drinking songs. Domestic troubles arising from the illnesses of himself and of his wife, and other afflictions, led him to seek the Lord, and the deliverances he experienced from pestilence and from violence led him to place all his confidence on God. The collected edition of his hymns appeared in two parts at Jena and Naumburg, 1659, pt. i. as his Geistlicher Lieder, Erster Theil, with 100 hymns [engraved title, Naumburg, 1658]; and pt. ii. as the Ander Theil with 50 hymns. In the preface he speaks of them as his “Sunday labours,” and says, “I was specially induced and compelled” to their composition” by the anxious and sore domestic afflictions by which God…..has for some time laid me aside.” They are distinguished for simplicity, firm faith, and liveliness, but often lack poetic vigour and are too sombre.
This is regarded as Homburg’s most popular hymn, but it is still pretty somber.
1) Christ, the Life of all the living,
Christ the Death of death, our foe,
Who thyself for us once giving
To the darkest depths of woe,
Partiently didst yield thy breath
But to save my soul from death;
Praise and glory every be,
Blessed Jesus, unto thee.
2) Thou, O Christ, hast taken on thee
Bitter strokes, a cruel rod;
Pain and scorn were heaped upon thee,
O thou sinless Son of God,
Only thus for me to win
Rescue from the bonds of sin;
Praise and glory ever be,
Blessed Jesus, unto thee.
3) Thou didst bear the smiting only
That it might not fall on me;
Stoodest falsely charged and lonely
That I might be safe and free;
Comfortless that I might know
Comfort from boundless woe.
Praise and glory ever be,
Blessed Jesus, unto thee.
4) Then for all that wrought our pardon,
For thy sorrows deep and sore,
For thine anguish in the garden,
I will thank the evermore;
Thank thee with my latest breath
For thy sad and cruel death,
For that last and bitter cry
Praise thee evermore on high. Amen.
Interestingly, the music to this hymn is better known as one of the tunes to which “Rock of Ages” is sung.
REDHEAD 76 is named for its composer, who published it as number 76 in his influential Church Hymn Tunes, Ancient and Modern (1853) as a setting for the hymn text “Rock of Ages.” It has been associated with Psalm 51 since the 1912 Psalter, where the tune was named AJALON. The tune is also known as PETRA from its association with “Rock of Ages,” and GETHSEMANE, which derives from the text “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (381).
Of the three long lines constituting REDHEAD 76, the last is almost identical to the first, and the middle line has an internal repeat. Well-suited to singing in parts, this music is also appropriate for unaccompanied singing.
The author of the text, James Montgomery, had some interesting years early in his life, but then settled in to an uneventful life of devotion.
Montgomery, James, son of John Montgomery, a Moravian minister, was born at Irvine, Ayrshire, Nov. 4, 1771. In 1776 he removed with his parents to the Moravian Settlement at Gracehill, near Ballymena, county of Antrim. Two years after he was sent to the Fulneck Seminary, Yorkshire. He left Fulneck in 1787, and entered a retail shop at Mirfield, near Wakefield. Soon tiring of that he entered upon a similar situation at Wath, near Rotherham, only to find it quite as unsuitable to his taste as the former. A journey to London, with the hope of finding a publisher for his youthful poems ended in failure; and in 1792 he was glad to leave Wath for Shefield to join Mr. Gales, an auctioneer, bookseller, and printer of the Sheffield Register newspaper, as his assistant. In 1794 Mr. Gales left England to avoid a political prosecution. Montgomery took the Sheffield Register in hand, changed its name to The Sheffield Iris, and continued to edit it for thirty-one years. During the next two years he was imprisoned twice, first for reprinting therein a song in commemoration of “The Fall of the Bastille,” and the second for giving an account of a riot in Sheffield. The editing of his paper, the composition and publication of his poems and hynms, the delivery of lectures on poetry in Sheffield and at the Royal Institution, London, and the earnest advocacy of Foreign Missions and the Bible Society in many parts of the country, gave great variety but very little of stirring incident to his life. In 1833 he received a Royal pension of £200 a year. He died in his sleep, at the Mount, Sheffield, April 30, 1854, and was honoured with a public funeral. A statue was erected to his memory in the Sheffield General Cemetery, and a stained glass window in the Parish Church. A Wesleyan chapel and a public hall are also named in his honour.
These are some seriously Anglican hymns. They just sound “Anglican”, especially the second tune.
There have been a few translations by women, but I think this is the first Hymn written by a woman I’ve come across.
There is a Green Hill Far Away
Words: Cecil F. Alexander, 1847. Alexander wrote this hymn as she sat up one night with her seriously sick daughter. Many times, traveling to town to shop, she had passed a small grassy mound, just outside the old city wall of Derry, Ireland. It always made her think of Calvary, and it came to mind as she wrote this hymn. She published it in her Hymns for Little Children in 1848.
Apparently, she was rather well known in her time, specifically for her hymns intended for children.
Alexander, Cecil Frances, née Humphreys, second daughter of the late Major John Humphreys, Miltown House, co. Tyrone, Ireland, b. 1823, and married in 1850 to the Rt. Rev. W. Alexander, D.D., Bishop of Derry and Raphoe. Mrs. Alexander’s hymns and poems number nearly 400. They are mostly for children, and were published in her Verses for Holy Seasons, with Preface by Dr. Hook, 1846; Poems on Subjects in the Old Testament, pt. i. 1854, pt. ii. 1857; Narrative Hymns for Village Schools, 1853; Hymns for Little Children, 1848; Hymns Descriptive and Devotional, 1858; The Legend of the Golden Prayers 1859; Moral Songs, N.B.; The Lord of the Forest and his Vassals, an Allegory, &c.; or contributed to the Lyra Anglicana, the S.P.C.K. Psalms and Hymns, Hymns Ancient & Modern, and other collections. Some of the narrative hymns are rather heavy, and not a few of the descriptive are dull, but a large number remain which have won their way to the hearts of the young, and found a home there. Such hymns as “In Nazareth in olden time,” “All things bright and beautiful,” “Once in Royal David’s city,” “There is a green hill far away,” “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult,” “The roseate hues of early dawn,” and others that might be named, are deservedly popular and are in most extensive use. Mrs. Alexander has also written hymns of a more elaborate character; but it is as a writer for children that she has excelled.
This Hymn was so short, only 8 bars, that I elected to play both versions as part of the same piece. Though, the first setting ends up in the key of F#, aka 6 sharps, or “All Your Sharps Are Belong To Us!”. The second setting is the more well known melody for this hymn. Twice through the first tune, each part doubled, then moving to the next setting.
He wrote original poems that have survived mainly in Catholic hymnals due to a clear adherence to Catholic doctrine. Caswall is best known for his translations from the Roman Breviary and other Latin sources, which are marked by faithfulness to the original and purity of rhythm. They were published in Lyra Catholica, containing all the breviary and missal hymns (London, 1849); The Masque of Mary (1858); and A May Pageant and other poems (1865). Hymns and Poems (1873) are the three books combined, with many of the hymns rewritten or revised. Some of his translations are used in the Hymns Ancient and Modern. His widely used hymn texts and translations include “Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise”; “Come, Holy Ghost”; “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee”; “When Morning Gilds the Skies”; and “Ye Sons and Daughters of the Lord”.
Of course, if you know anything about me, if something is extremely pretty, I can’t resist messing with it. So I doubled the tempo, swung the quarter notes, and played it on Soprano and Tenor Saxophones.
While this arrangement was easy to transcribe and record, I had a much harder time finding room for my second verse solo “Hymnprovisation”. There’s a lot of freedom in the simple harmonies of chant. When you start getting more chord changes in there, it becomes more complicated for improvisation.
I always think of improvisation sort of like navigating an obstacle course. With Chant, you basically have a straight track with maybe one obstacle in the middle. With modern arrangements (and jazz), it becomes a steeple chase.