A Passel of Hymns

Not long ago two different people asked me whether I had ever written any sacred music. My stock answer to that question is No, mainly because frankly I feel unworthy to compose music for use in worship — there is already so much good sacred music that’s been written over the centuries that I feel inadequate even to equal it, much less to improve upon it. I hope that maybe I am only honing my skills in this life so that I can compose worthy music in the next.

Be that as it may, I did remember that I went through a hymn-writing phase once as a youngster, and for better or worse (you be the judge of that) I discovered that most of my scribblings are still extant and were stashed away in an old file drawer. As best I recall I wrote these hymns when I was about 16 years old — so long ago that not only are several of the texts missing so that I’ve no idea what words were being set, but also there are two or three that I don’t even recognize as having written. I’m not sure whether that’s a case simply of old age or of denial. These were all basically four-part hymns (with some rather interesting harmonies and rhythms thrown in here and there) and were originally designed to be sung a cappella. For the audio files below, however, I had the computer play them back on organ since computer “choirs” sound even less human. Your mind will have to extrapolate how they should sound with actual voices.

Most of these certainly serve only as examples of an immature composer who’d not even yet had freshman music theory, but since people asked.... The only ones I feel are worth much more than a quick listen (and admittedly, most aren’t worth even that) are Hymn 7 (Psalm xxii), because all four parts can be treated equally and interchanged at will (though only the “straight” form is given in the audio sample); and Hymns 4 and 16 (“Lift Up Your Hearts!” and “All the World Shall Come to Know Him,” respectively) , which are simply some of my favorites of the lot.

Each sample is played through twice, not for any particularly cruel design but only because they are all so short. Times given are approximate, so don’t hold me to the exact second. If for some reason you would like to see any of the scores, feel free to contact me.

Hymn 1 (1:20)
(Text unknown)

Hymn 9 (2:04)
(Text unknown)

Hymn 2 (1:52)
(Text unknown)

Hymn 10 (1:22)
"Now That the Daylight Fills the Sky" (St. Ambrose)

Hymn 3 (0:40)
(Text unknown)

Hymn 11 (0:53)
"Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies" (Charles Wesley)

Hymn 4 (1:11)
"Lift Up Your Hearts!" (Henry Montagu Butler)

Hymn 12 (0:35)
"Lord, in This Thy Mercy's Day" (Isaac Williams)

Hymn 5 (0:44)
"Glory to Thee, in Light Arrayed" (Thomas Ken)

Hymn 13 (0:39)
"For Thy Mercy and Thy Grace" (Henry Downton)

Hymn 6 (0:32)
"On This Day, the First of Days" (Anon 18th. C.)

Hymn 14 (0:32)
(Text unknown)

Hymn 7 (1:25)
"Psalm xxii"

Hymn 15 (1:31)
(Text unknown)

Hymn 8 (0:52)
"Hear Us, Eternal King" (Eve Davieson)

Hymn 16 (1:42)
"All the World Shall Come to Know Him" (Israel Zangwill)

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