Can a Composer Clone Himself?
Hymn #63 — “Great King of Heaven”
Text: Carrie Stockdale Thomas (1848-1931; LDS)
Music: Leroy J. Robertson (1896-1971; LDS)
Tune name: JASPER
After a wonderful day of basking in the light of Hymn #62, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” we return to the deep darkness of the sealed portion of the hymnbook.
It’s sad that such a fine composer as Leroy Robertson has several hymns in this “no man’s land” area of our hymn tradition.
As I played through this one it sounded familiar. Notice the 4 opening notes. Sol-Do, Mi-La. Hmm, we’ve heard that recently in these posts. I made a comment about this double Sol-Do strong opening. And here we get it again.
So I started thumbing back through my marked up in Cardinal Red hymnal and found the previous Leroy Robertson hymn, #53, “Let Earth’s Inhabitants Rejoice.” They are almost the same hymn. Wow, that’s really interesting.
Let’s compare the tune. See how #63 starts G-C, E-A, G-G-F, E-A-G? Well, #53 is almost exactly the same. G-C, E-A, G-F-E-D-G. Cool! Of course the meter is different. But the tune and much of the harmony is very nearly the same. Let’s see if he keeps it up.
Hymn #63, look at the text, “To thee in prayer, to thee in praise.” Compare it the text in Hymn #53, “And gladly hail the glorious hour.” Yep, more of the same tune and even some of those same big, wide open chords, like the one with the F-sharp in the bass.
Even the climax is nearly the same. #63, “the hills acclaim, And all thy works…” compared to #53, “Again is heard a prophet’s voice.” Same tune and even the same E-major harmony on the climax resolving to A minor. The tags at the end are different, but most of the rest of the hymn is very nearly the same.
I guess we could say that Hymn #63 is a variation of Hymn #53. Or visa versa. I wonder if Robertson thought of them in this way? This is really interesting to me.
Both are fine hymns and delightful to sing. But I wonder if the new hymnbook committee will be forced to pick between them since they are both in the sealed portion. I suppose they could both get the axe because they are not very well known. And to keep 2 of basically the same unknown hymn in the new book seems unlikely to me. It will be interesting to see.
Report from the Field:
Do you remember Hymn #54 from a few days ago? I called it “The Great Temple Unknown Temple Hymn.” I was so excited by this hymn that I decided to have our ward choir sing it in Sacrament Meeting. There was no need to create any type of arrangement, the piece is fresh to our ears as written in the hymnal.
So, for the intermediate hymn, we had the choir sing verses 1-3 with piano accompaniment. At the end of verse 3 I began a new intro at the organ and the conductor invited the congregation to stand and join the choir for verse 4.
It was so much fun! I really love that hymn. And it was a great way to introduce it to the congregation. Since we had a missionary farewell yesterday, we had quite a big congregation which allowed me to boost the registration a bit. I got chills all over.
In a few weeks we plan to program the hymn again as a regular opening or closing hymn. Hopefully the congregations memory will be strong enough to remember the tune.
That’s all for today. Have a good one!
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Commentary from “The Bench Warmer”
by Jason Gunnell, Organist
All Creatures is sandwiched between two hymns from the sealed portion which definitely do not deserve this very unfortunate relegation. This hymn is a fantastic declamatory hymn that is so fitting in our meetings that it should find a place much more regularly in our selections. The text is majestic and artful in its use of language and the tune is a perfect vehicle for the text’s communication. Another fantastic hymn that bears all the characteristics of a great hymn and is worthy of use and study.
Once again we meet a suggested tempo marking that is so unsatisfactorily slow for the tune. Quarter note equal to 128 beats per minute is a much more suitable tempo for this outstanding hymn. A full plenum once again is called for, with use of chorus reeds and a 16’ in the manual on the second verse.
Registration Starting Point:
Great: Principal 8’, 4’, 2’, Mixture
Swell: Principal 8’, 4’, 2’, Flute 8’, Nazard 2 ⅔’, Mixture (choose the lower pitched-mixture between this and the Great Mixture…, Hautbois 8’
Pedal: Principal 16’, 8’, 4’, Bourdon 16’, Flute 8’, 16’ Reed
Possible Final Verse Additions:
Great: Mixture, Trumpet 8’
Swell: Mixture, Bassoon 16’
Pedal: 32’ Flue and Reed, Posaune 16’