AUDIO: Hymnal harmonization, adapt. Felix Mendelssohn - Descant verse Free score. 


The tune going by the name MUNICH traces its origins to 1593, when it appeared in the Dresdner Gesangbuch, which reappeared somewhat evolved a century later in Neu-vermehrtes und zu Übung Christl. Gottseligkeit eingerichtetes Meiningisches Gesangbuch - a word salad that is more frequently simplified to Meiningen Gesangbuch, at that time used as a hymnal in Munich (which is not near Meiningen). It is this variant that Felix Mendelssohn adapted from the hymn O Gott, du frommer Gott, and arranged for the vocal quartet  Cast thy burden upon the Lord in his oratorio, Elijah. It is this adaptation that has passed into modern hymnody, paired most significantly with William Walsham How's 1867 hymn, O Word of God incarnate. His original had four verses, but in some hymnals, the middle two are condensed into single verse. Every bit accepting of modern science, How's hymn nevertheless enlarges on the incipit of the prologue to St. John's gospel - "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God" - to establish the centrality of the Bible in Christian faith and doctrine. Bishop How is well known for other works - a hymn, For all the saints, and his life of service; as suffragan bishop he lived among the poor of East London. For this service, he turned down higher episcopal appointments in Durham and Manchester.



The Hymnary

The History of Hymns (UMC Discipleship Ministries)

Hymns of Faith (interview and transcript, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson MS)

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music, R. Larry Todd, Oxford University Press, 2003 ISBN 978-0195110432

Mendelssohn Essays, R. Larry Todd, Routledge, 2007 ISBN 978-0415978149.

Descant verse:

O make thy church, dear Savior, a lamp of burnished gold,

to bear before the nations thy true light as of old;

O teach thy wandering pilgrims by this their path to trace,

till, clouds and darkness ended, they see thee face to face.

– William Walsham How (1867)

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