Hymn-Lullaby that Collapses the Crib

Hymn-Lullaby that Collapses the Crib

Hymn #96 — “Dearest Children, God Is Near You”

Text: Charles L. Walker (1832-1904; LDS)
Music: John Menzies Macfarlane (1833-1892; LDS)
Tune name: SINCLAIR

This lovely lullaby goes along beautifully until the bottom falls out and the poor little baby crashes to the ground in a heap of tears.

Ironically, the four bars where the foundation drops away are the bars “He will bless you…” Hmm, not my kind of blessing…

We’ve beat this horse past death and into fossil fuel. But here we go again. What’s the point of having the men rest? I have no idea.

Here are 3 possible harmonizations I through together. Feel free to use them if you wish.

#1 - Pretty straight forward with a little A-flat flavor.

#1 - Pretty straight forward with a little A-flat flavor.

#2 - A little French harmony at first mixed with the A-flat-ness.

#2 - A little French harmony at first mixed with the A-flat-ness.

#3 - For a more melancholy mood.

#3 - For a more melancholy mood.

What I like about the tune, apart from the lilting lullaby, is the mix of arpeggio leaps and scale-wise steps. And I always appreciate clever ways of making a stagnant melody sound interesting. This occurs in the 3rd line. There are 5 Fs in a row, but the other parts all pitch in and give lots of intriguing motion. The motion is not complicate. It’s mostly toggling between notes in the same chord or stepping between chord tones. But it’s just enough to keep our attention.

The end melodic climax, the high D and E-flat, after the 4 bars of bottom dropping out, is in a somewhat odd place. It’s especially odd after the 2-part bit. Another reason to harmonize those 4 bars, so the climax doesn’t feel like it comes out of nowhere.

The final motion in the bass keeps up the lilt all the way to the end, which I quite like.

Pretty short commentary today. I hope you get some good use out of these harmonizations. And I hope they’ll encourage you to try out some harmonizations of your own.

Have a good one!


P.S. I’m deep in the thick of Volume 1 of my new manual for hymn and primary song writers, “Writing the ‘Songs of Redeeming Love.’” Part 2 will be about writing Melody. Part 3 about Harmony. Part 4 about writing for the keyboard in Primary Songs. And last, Part 5 will be all about writing hymn arrangements for ward choir.

To be notified when Part 1 is published and ready to go, click the big green button below.

If the button doesn’t work, click this link… http://eepurl.com/dLBZrw.

Commentary from “The Bench Warmer”

by Jason Gunnell, Organist

This hymn’s text and tune are both from members of the church. It is a sweet message directed to children and is paired well with an equally sweet tune. I find the story of the text’s origin quite charming, as I can relate! The author was bored during a particularly long Sacrament Meeting, so penned this text to occupy his mind. I think his efforts are fantastic!

The tune is very nice. The gentle minuet in three is an excellent choice for this text. The melody and harmonization are simple and work so well to accompany this simple, yet poignant text. Though the tune is great, a frustrating practice again shows here in the third line of the hymn. Please harmonize this line. It is silly to see the gentlemen in the ward stop singing because there are no tenor and bass parts, especially when they are singing melody! Harmonizing this part only helps to better support congregational singing.

Again, the counsel with hymns in three is to treat them as if they are in one. This gives great forward motion and gives a better chance to get a very good tempo. I find a good tempo is around dotted half note equal to 40-42 (or more specifically quarter note equal to 122-124). This gives the tune a nice lilt to it and supports the elegance of the minuet. A sweet or elegant registration could include a 2’ flute accompanying a gentle foundation.

Registration Starting Point:
Great: Principal 8’, Flute 8’, 4’
Swell: Principal 8’, Flute 8’, 4’, 2’ (maybe, or can be reserved. I’d probably use it and not make many registration changes…)
Pedal: Principal 16’, 8’, Bourdon 16’, Flute 8’
Sw/Gt, Sw/Ped

Possible Final Verse Additions:
Swell: Flute 2’