Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Music

Many people know this traditional Thanksgiving Hymn as "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come," but you might not know that its original name was "St. George's, Windsor." It was written by Sir George Job Elvey (1816-1893) who was the organist there. The Hymn works very well as a duet for violin and viola.

You can click on the images for a larger view, and a PDF is available on this page of the IMSLP. Here's a note about the piece from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook
George J. Elvey (PHH 48) composed ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR as a setting for James Montgomery's text "Hark! The Song of Jubilee," with which it was published in Edward H. Thorne's Selection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1858). The tune has been associated with Alford's text since publication of the hymn in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR is named after the chapel in Windsor, England, where Elvey was organist for forty-seven years.

This serviceable Victorian tune is held together by the rhythmic motive of the opening phrase. Sing the opening stanzas in parts, but sing the prayer of stanza 4 in unison. Use of the descant by C. S. Lang (PHH 253) with stanza 4 may suggest a foretaste of heaven's glory.

Here are some settings of that other Thanksgiving favorite, "We Gather Together" that can be played by any combination of instruments. The melody comes from the 16th-centuiry popular song "Hey wilder dan wild" (wilder than wild), and this setting from 1626 by Adrianus Valerius is called "Wilt heden nu treden".
You can download a PDF of this arrangement here.

UPDATE for 2020: I have made versions of "Come, Ye Thankful People Come" for string orchestra, bassoon quintet, and trombone quartet with bass trombone that you can access through this link.


Anonymous said...

I heard a fine comment years ago: thankfulness is its own reward. Over the ensuing years, I have come to think this a great bit of wisdom. Thanks for the post, and thanks your blog documenting an ongoing wonderment about music, with the occasional cookie mixed in. Very fine, and very Fine.

Elaine Fine said...

Thank you for that wonderful bit if wisdom, Anonymous.