Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Voices Found: Charlotte Barnard

One hobby of mine is tracking down hymn texts and tunes (particularly the latter) written by women. For various cultural reasons, those creative efforts have rarely survived to the present day to a degree anywhere near those of their male counterparts. Church Publishing (an Episcopal outfit) published a collection of women's hymn tunes and texts in 2003 called Voices Found, but their emphasis, while partly historical, was more contemporary in scope.

So who didn't make it into Voices Found? One such woman is Charlotte Alington Barnard, who died on this day in 1869. While Barnard wrote some poetry, none has, to my knowledge, been used as a hymn. However, under the pseudonym of 'Claribel' she was a prolific composer of ballads and popular songs. One "standard" hymn tune written by her has come down to us called BROCKLESBURY (sometimes called, in error, BROCKLESBY - Brocklesbury was the name of a town near Dover where Barnard and her husband lived). It was published in several nineteenth-century hymnals but fared somewhat worse as the years went on. The Episcopalians still included it in the Hymnal 1940 but it was left out of the Hymnal 1982. Written for an meter, it's a perfectly serviceable tune that could sometimes be used in place of more ubiquitous tunes such as STUTTGART.

Try Barnard's tune to the following text:

Hear, O God, the prayer we offer,
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.

Not forever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be,
But by steep and rugged pathways
Always strive to climb to thee.

Not forever by still waters
Would we, idly, quiet, stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.

Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavor, failure, danger,
Be thou ever at our side.

Love Maria Willis, c.1859; alt.
Charlotte A. Barnard, 1868

Yes, Love Maria Willis is another woman who didn't make it into Voices Found. Sometimes hymn texts by women are considered overly sentimental and 'weak,' but this one, I think, takes a practical, 'go for it' kind of attitude that deserves to be kept in the modern repertory of hymns. This text is the only one credited to Willis at the CyberHymnal, so maybe it's fitting to pair it with Charlotte Barnard's solitary hymn tune. There is another Barnard melody, which she wrote for a secular text, and which was later adapted for a gospel song by Howard B. Grose (who probably then named the tune BARNARD) in 1902. Are there others?

***UPDATE (6/9/08) - On May 28 I reported that I have found another hymn tune by Charlotte Barnard called PILGRIMAGE, which you can now hear thanks to commenter Leland Bryant Ross's creadion of a sound file.***

***UPDATE #2***  This hymn with words and music together is now posted to be shared on Facebook.  Go to "Conjubilant W. Song" and click on "Photos" then "Albums" -- it's in the Downloadable Hymns album.***

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Claribel didn't live in Dover, she died there. In fact Brocklesby (sic) is a village in Lincolnshire. Her husband was parish priest for a time, thus Brocklesby is the correct title of the tune. See 'The Story of Claribel' by Phyllis Smith.