FOR BRASS QUINTET, TIMP, AND ORGAN
Descant to the hymn tune GARDINER, also published as GERMANY. Free score with harmonized descant. || Audio: intro (four bars, ad lib) | hymnal verse | free harmonization (Wm. Gardiner, 1815) | organ bridge (ad lib) | descant and harmonization
The hymn Where cross the crowded ways of life was written at the turn of the 20th century by poet Frank Mason North (1850-1935). Active in urban ministry, North's hymn is a reverse analogy to William Blake's And did those feet in ancient time; whereas Blake saw the coal-scarred landscape of England replaced at Christ's coming by a green and pleasant land, North appeals to the 'Master, from the mountainside' to transfigure the chaos, din, and desparation of the city into a new Jerusalem, sent from above. While waiting in expectation, however, the church begins the transformation with quiet, persistent individual acts of Christ-like selflessness. North understood well the difficulty of changing the tenacious dynamics of "race and clan" with transformative one-to-one acts of grace, such as "the cup of water given for Thee." Final transformation descends as the heavenly city; for now, the Church must be the next best thing. First published in a missionary journal, The Christian City in 1903, it appeared two years later in the Methodist Hymnal; wide acceptance followed.
Where cross the crowded ways of life
*adapt. fr. William Gardiner, 1815
till all the world shall learn thy love,
and follow where thy feet have trod;
till glorious from thy heaven above
shall come the city of our God.
– Hymnal 1982
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