This album of hymns is full of beautiful melodies and inspiring music.
It's composers cross oceans and time through several centuries. Louis
Spohr, (1784 - 1859) who wrote "Potter" was a German composer,
violinist and conductor who was friends with Ludwig van Beethoven. A
concert in Leipzig in December 1804 brought the influential music
critic Friedrich Rochlitz "to his knees", not only because of Spohr's
playing but also because of his compositions. This concert brought
the young man overnight fame in the whole German-speaking world. He
too wrote nine symphonies (a tenth was left unfinished) and was opera
director at Frankfurt where he was able to stage his own operas - the
first of which was Faust.
Louis M. Gottschalk ("Manna") was born in New Orleans in 1829. From
early in his childhood, he was exposed to the French and
African-tinged Caribbean folk music that characterized the music of
the Creoles. It was this bombastic music that left the deepest
impression on Gottschalk, later permeating his works and eventually
spurring him on to international fame. At the age of 13, Louis left
to study piano and composition in Paris. His virtuosic playing and
Creole-inspired compositions gained him immediate fame throughout
"His Kingdon Is Forever" was composed by Martin Luther. Luther began
to compose hymns in 1523. The number of hymns written by Luther is
still disputed, but he did write at least 36 hymns. Martin Luther was
a very influential individual in leading the Reformation of the church
in the sixteenth century, but he also set precedence musically that
has carried over to present day. Luther's 95 Theses outlined what
would become a new era of practicing religion. His rebellion against
the Catholic Church led to a new relationship between the common
worshipper and music. Martin Luther's theses outlined the basis for
allowing common people the ability to participate in the worship
service musically, laid the foundation for mass in the vernacular, and
wrote hymns that reflected personal feelings and experiences with God.
From obscure circumstances, Lyman Foster Brackett (both "Shepherd" and
"Harpstrings") was propelled in the mid-1880s to a position of
prominence in the musical circles of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
His service to this church was most conspicuous in the compiling of
the first official Christian Science Hymnal, to which task he was
appointed by Mary Baker Eddy, Pastor of the church and Discoverer and
Founder of Christian Science. As chairman of the hymnal committee and
music editor for the project, Brackett wrote 99 original tunes for
choir and congregational use, and selected all the other music in the
hymnal. (For more on this see: "Lyman Brackett: Memorable Musician"
by Peter J. Hodgson, PhD)
William Vincent Wallace ("Christmas Morn") was born in Waterford,
Ireland in 1814. Under the tuition of his father he early wrote
pieces for the bands and orchestras of his native place. A world
traveler, when eighteen years of age, for the purpose of recovering
his health by a voyage, he sailed for Sydney. Australia, there
remaining several years and leading a life of adventure. From
Australia he went to New Zealand, made a whaling-voyage in the South
Seas, and finally landed in the East Indies. He visited most of the
interior provinces of Hindostan and spent some time tiger-hunting.
From Hindostan, Wallace sailed for Chili, and in turn visited Peru and
Buenos Ayres, giving concerts in the large cities of those countries.
This musical progress was gradually extended to Mexico and the West,
Indies. His earliest appearance in the United States as a virtuoso
was in New Orleans. Thence he travelled through the Union for several
years, giving entertainments in the large cities.
Later Wallace went to England, turning his attention to the
composition of operas. As a performer on the violin and piano-forte
Wallace was more than respectable. As an opera-composer he was
deficient in the science of instrumentation, but he well understood
how to write for the voice, and many of his melodies combine fluency
and grace with the charms of originality.
"Ton-y-Botel" translated from Welsh means "tune in a bottle." The
legend tells that the tune washed up on the shores of Wales in a
bottle. Like many good Welsh folksongs, it later became the hymn
"Ebenezer". It actually was composed by Thomas John Williams in 1890,
organist at Llanelli. Whether he actually composed it or simple was
the first to write it down is debatable. Some say it is an ancient
melody and it can be found in several different cultures throughout
Europe and the Middle East.
"Oh Dreamer" or "Londonderry Aire" or "Oh Danny Boy" has long been one
of the world's most cherished melodies. History has it that Jane Ross
(1810-1879) stated that she had taken down the tune in Limavady in
1851 when she heard it played by an itinerant fiddler. One of
Ireland's most distinguished folk song collectors, Sam Henry, states
in "Songs of the People" a regular weekly feature in the Northern
Constitution (1923- 1939), that blind Jimmy McCurry (1830-1910) was
the fiddler referred to by Jane Ross. One day Jane Ross heard Jimmy
playing a beautiful melody which she had never heard before. She came
over to Jimmy and asked him to play the tune over and over again until
she had taken down every note. Jane thanked him and gave him a coin
for his moving rendition of the tune. When she departed Jimmy rubbed
it against his lips, as was his method of determining the denomination
of coins, and discovered it was a florin instead of the customary
penny. He set off in pursuit of Jane and when he caught up with her
he told her that she had made a mistake. Jane refused to take it back
and asked him to keep it as a token of her appreciation of his music.
WALTER E. YOUNG - [Information yet to come]