A Little 'Extra Crunchy' in My Creamy Hymn Peanut Butter

A Little 'Extra Crunchy' in My Creamy Hymn Peanut Butter

Hymn #88 — “Great God, Attend While Zion Sings”

Text: Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Music: Joseph J. Daynes (1851-1920; LDS)
Tune name: KIMBALL

I’m in a bit of a rush today, so this will be kinda short.

Full disclosure, it’s fall break and we’re taking our 5 kids to Lagoon. We’re leaving in a bit, so I had to dash this off quickly.

Please take the time to read Jason’s commentary below. I love that he had this beautiful hymn programmed at the Episcopalian Church where he works (and where I used to work).

For my part, I say 3 quick things.

First, this is a lovely tune. Hymn writers, I recommend you spend time studying it. Pay attention to the contour and the tendency tones. Notice the gravity of those tendency tones and how the composer delays resolution for maximum effect.

Second, I love, love, love the fully diminished 7th chord on the word “Exceed” in the last line. And I love how he sticks with it for the whole bar, even adding the B-natural to it a moment of “extra crunchy” goodness to the otherwise creamy-smooth peanut butter.

Third, my composer brain can’t help feel that Joseph Daynes setup a few moments for extra motion. But he didn’t take advantage of them. They sound to me like an unfulfilled pattern. The hymn is still lovely as is, but I feel there was a missed opportunity for some extra suspension sauce on our hymn meal. Here are a few things I would add, if allowed.

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“Sings” in the first line feels like it’s missing a suspension in the alto. I’ve carried over the D-flat and resolved it on beat 2. "The joy,” right after that, feels like it needs another alto suspension. See the arrows above.

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“To spend one day” in the 2nd line is a great shift to F-minor. I want to add a little more dissonance on “day,” again, in the alto. I’m carrying over the E-natural and resolving it up to F on beat 2.

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And last, in the final bar, it seems much more cohesive, given how the rest of the hymn is written, to have one last suspended moment. I carry the soprano, alto and tenor over to the downbeat over the bass A-flat resolving on beat 2.

So, that’s it for today. Tomorrow we’ll turn on the flood lights with Hymn #89.

Have a good one!

Doug


Commentary from “The Bench Warmer”

by Jason Gunnell, Organist

This is a powerhouse of a hymn, with a great text (not a surprise from Isaac Watts) and a wonderful tune. The text is a paraphrase of verses from Psalm 84. You will remember that Joseph J. Daynes was the first Tabernacle Organist, and this tune is yet another example of a great tune and harmonization from an organist.

I work at an Episcopal Church in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. It is an immensely fulfilling opportunity for me to play wonderful hymnody, beautiful music crafted for the various elements of the Mass (or Eucharist for the Episcopalians), and some of the greatest sacred choral music written. We also do Evening Services such as Evensong and Evening Prayer. St. Thomas is one of three or four churches in the United States that has a regular Evening Prayer Service patterned after the services held at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig when Bach was the Director of Music. We pattern the service as closely as we can to what one of these services would have been like at Bach’s time. Central to this is the performance of a Bach Cantata for the anthem. In addition to the anthem, hymns and service music are also sung.

I find this hymn to be so wonderful that I introduced it to my colleague who is the artistic director of the ensemble that plays the cantatas. We was so enraptured with it that we chose this hymn as one of the hymns in this service, so fitting was the text and music. This wonderful tune and text fit right in next to the music of Bach!

A plea from the organ bench. Please sing all the verses. There is no such thing as extra verses, and, like most hymns before this, the message remains incomplete if the verses outside the music are omitted. I hope that the new committee reconsiders this practice for the new hymnal, though I won’t hold my breath.

Though the tempo is solemn, it is still beneficial to feel the pulse in one rather than three. Or at least feel a very strong pulse on beat one if staying in three helps keep the pulse steady. I will mention while it is on my mind the importance of giving the dotted quarter note its full value. Too often I hear organists shortening the note, thus clipping the beats in the measure. It is very difficult to sing to and very noticeable! I think the suggested tempo marking here is right in line with the solemn nature of the tune. I probably play it somewhere between 74-78 beats per minute. I would explore an expansive registration, finding as full of a sound as I could produce on the organ I was playing, without getting too muddy, and definitely shying away from upper work for this solemn tune.

Registration Starting Point:
Great: Principal 8’, Flute 8’, 4’
Swell: Principal 8’, Flute 8’, 4’, String 8’
Pedal: Principal 16’, 8’, Bourdon 16’, Flute 8’
Sw/Gt, Sw/Ped

Possible Final Verse Additions:
Great: Bourdon 16’, Principal 4’
Swell: Flute 2’, Hautbois 8’
Pedal: Contra Bourdon 32’