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You've probably heard the argument that only hymns should be sung in church as they are the most holy (read: can be played softly on a piano or organ) and don't have those evil voodoo beats. You've probably also heard the counter-argument that most hymn tunes originated as a bar song. We've always wondered about this and decided to do a little digging into the history of some beloved hymns. (Note: All hymns come from the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1986 edition. Yeah, we're old school like that.) Now get ready to rock!
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“Come Christians Join to sing” (#10) and “Carmen Ohio” (famous Ohio State University anthem) also share the same tune.
“Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” (#423) is set to the tune “God save Francis the Emperor” by Haydn, which has been the tune for the German and Austrian national anthems (including the “co-national anthem” of Nazi Germany).
Once upon a November 11th Sabbath, this was the closing song at the university church.
All us history majors in the back row were wondering if the organist who made the selection was aware…
That early Advent favorite, “How Sweet Are the Tidings” (#442), is set to “Bonnie Eliose, the Belle of the Mohawk Vale.” Eloise proved popular with both Yankees and Rebs during the Civil War!
Several years ago, I wrote a treatise on this subject entitled “On Plundering the Carnal Lover.” It examined the sources behind many more of our hymns. I’ll be glad to share it if someone wants a copy.
Hi, Jim Ayars, I’m a musicologist and I’d like reading your treatise. Could you send it to firstname.lastname@example.org?
Sent it to me too… email@example.com
What? No mention of that pub song, “Silent Night, Holy Night”? I am so shocked!