Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Hymn Tune Harmonizations

I've been pulling together some of my original hymns into a little book that I plan to call Useful Hymns. The texts are all by yours truly, but only some of the tunes are my original work. And here are only some of them, plus some arrangements I wrote of a few existing tunes. If you want to put them together with the texts that go with them, you can either wait until my book comes out or do a scavenger hunt through this blog. Good luck!
This tune is for the hymn "Amen, Amen, the Savior said," based on John 12:23-33.

I dug this tune up to pair with a text I wrote years after the tune. I no longer remember what hymn the tune was originally composed for, only that the Bloomington of the title is most likely the city in Minnesota. 

I think I wrote this tune for a hymn by another author. I dug it out when I was looking for ready-made tunes to use with texts of my own. 

I have always liked this tune, even though it is associated in my mind with an obnoxiously pietistic Danish hymn. I decided to rehab it a bit by writing a hymn on the efficacy of God's word to fit it. The harmonization is mine, because the hymnal in which I found it had an arrangement that was copyrighted.

This tune was written for my Easter hymn "Were Christ not arisen."

I composed this second arrangement of the same tune at about the same time as the first.

I have been fascinated with worthy old, "unsung" Lutheran chorales at least since I was in college, around the time I became acquainted with this fine specimen. I used it in my book "Useful Hymns" with a dedicatory hymn for Christ-centered hymnody.

This tune was written for a hymn on Christ's feeding of the five thousand, emphasizing the Passover related significance of that miracle.

This tune was written for my hymn on Christ's miraculous feeding of the four thousand, which I feel contrasts distinctly with the feeding of the five thousand. The odd meter is a riff on the fact that in the hymn text, I run an extended metaphor about divine mathematics almost to the point of becoming a joke.

The hymn text for which this tune was written has a stanza for each of the nine fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

The text for which I wrote this tune is the burial hymn "O heaven, heal our hearts," inspired by the untimely death of my friend Richard Ashburner, longtime manager of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. I wrote the first stanza of the hymn on the spur of the moment in a condolence card to chorus director Amy Kaiser, then decided to develop it further.

Both of these arrangements were written in response to my friend Matthew Carver's suggestion that a modern arrangement of the plainsong would make a nice accompaniment to his fresh translation of the Latin hymn. I found another use for the material in my book of original hymns.

The title of this tune is a reference to its musical mode, like the key of D major but missing the C#. It was written for a text on the theology of worship, "Dear Father, bless this holy space."

I wrote this hymn intentionally to sound like ICH STERBE TAEGLICH, popularly paired with the communion hymn "I come, O Savior, to Thy table." The text this tune goes with is another communion hymn that I wrote in a fit of polemical fervor when a colleague in the ministry published an opinion article denouncing the idea that all of Christ is present with His body and blood in the Lord's Supper.

Pruning is a metaphor for the beneficial aspects of the affliction of the faithful in the hymn for which I wrote this tune.

The Ylvisaker Memorial Scholarship was a big reason I was able to afford to attend Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn., where the fine arts building in which I spent the best part of several wonderful years is also christened with that name. I wrote the tune so named to go with a hymn on the nativity of Christ.

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