Saturday, January 16, 2016

15 Hymn-Tune Harmonizations

Since I last posted 23 hymn-tune arrangements, mostly featuring original tunes by yours truly, I've been busy harmonizing some more. Here are the fruits of those efforts, with explanatory notes. Note, only about a third of this batch are my own melodies. The rest are existing tunes that I selected for hymn texts that I wrote.
I wrote this tune five years ago to go with a hymn my friend Mark Preus wrote for the 15th Sunday after Trinity. I later repurposed it to serve this hymn for the Fifth Sunday after Easter.

A Mark Preus hymn also inspired this tune - his text for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, on Jesus' healing of a group of lepers. I reused it for this hymn on the "I AM" Christology of the apostle and evangelist John. At that time I thought I would rename it "EGO EIMI" (Greek for "I AM"), but since then I repented and restored the original title honoring Preus' hymn.

My friend Matthew Carver sent me a scan of this tune, as set to Psalm 106 in Becker's Psalter ("Danket dem Herrn, erzeigt ihm Ehr"), when I posted this hymn on a hymn-writers' Facebook page and solicited tune suggestions. I liked the tune, but I thought the harmony that came with it was a little pedestrian, so I went ahead and made my own arrangement.

This tune originally went to the German hymn "Es jammre, wer nicht glaubt," by the 18th century author P. F. Hiller. I liked it enough to set it to this hymn on the Third Sunday in Advent.

I wrote this tune to go with this hymn on the four evangelists.

I found a number of hymns by the influential Danish theologian N.F.S. Grundtvig in an old book of hymns (texts without tunes) prepared for home devotions. At the time I was working on a similar collection, so I selected three of Grundvig's hymns and set them to original tunes. This one went with a Christmas tune which, in translation, begins: "Christmas with gladness sounds, joy abounds." It had a peculiar meter, which struck me as an exciting challenge. A second tune I wrote for a Grundtvig hymn is below (see UNCTION). The third, alas, I lost when I decided the text for which I wrote it was too weak for the collection, and deleted it from the book. I have often regretted that deletion, and now I wonder: If a composer writes a hymn tune on his computer and then deletes it without anyone ever hearing it, does it make music?

This tune was originally written for a hymn about the church by the 16th-century German hymn-writer Nikolaus Herman. I borrowed it to go with this hymn on the rich man and Lazarus.

Bach used this chorale in his Cantata 133, with a contemporary (1738) text by Caspar Ziegler. I have always found this tune very touching, and I love Bach to pieces. I didn't think he would mind if I stole his tune and made my own arrangement of it for a recent Epiphany hymn.

This rarity, a hymn tune complete in two phrases, originally belonged to a hymn about dying and going to heaven by the 15th century writer Heinrich von Laufenber. I reused it for this hymn about Jesus' double miracle of cleansing a leper and healing a centurion's servant.

This tune belongs to a one-stanza table-grace hymn by the 16th century hymn-writer Bartholomäus Ringwaldt. The full first line in German is "Lobet den Herrn und dankt ihm seine Gaben." I reused it with this hymn on the 12-year-old Jesus' visit to the temple.

This 10th-century tune originally went with a hymn by the sixth-century Pope Gregory I "the Great," the guy Gregorian chant is named after. It came to me by way of a German hymn based on Gregory's Latin, for what it's worth. Here is the hymn I paired it with, for a no-longer-fashionable Sunday of the church year.

The Grundtvig hymn "With her cruse of alabaster," on Jesus' anointing at Bethany by a sinful woman, was the original inspiration for this tune. I later reused it for this hymn on fasting.

Spangenberg wrote this tune for his own hymn on the resurrection, based on Psalm 149:5. I reused it for this hymn on the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.

This tune originally went with a German Lutheran metrical paraphrase of Psalm 119. I chose it for this hymn about the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem.

I set this hymn on Jesus' miracle of the great catch of fish to this strange tune to a Communion hymn by the 16th-century writer Petrus Herbert. I think the tune caught my eye when Matthew Carver posted it on his blog with his translation of the hymn; he has drawn my attention to quite a few Bohemian Brethren artifacts.

In case you think harmonizing a paltry 15 tunes since that last batch is a sign of laziness, do understand that I am also madly midifying chorales with existing, public-domain harmonies that I also plan to use in my book. There are loads of them. I am only harmonizing tunes when I really must, either for copyright reasons, or because I can't find an arrangement I like, etc. It's nice to see the book taking shape at last!

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