Monday, September 8, 2008

More Voices Found: Lizzie Tour­jée

Lizzie Tourjee was born on September 8, 1858, into a musical family. Her father, Eben Tour­jée, taught music in several places, then in 1867 founded the New England Conservatory of Music. The following tune by Lizzie was composed for a graduation song at her high school in 1874. A few years later her father was working on the committee that produced the Methodist Hymnal of 1878, and he submitted her tune, calling it WELLESLEY after the New England college that Lizzie had attended. The tune became very popular before long, and was used in a great number of hymnals for at least the next 50-60 years, often paired with There's a wideness in God's mercy, but I prefer it with this text, a paraphrase of Psalm 150.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
In the temple God be praised;
In the high and heavenly places
Be the sounding anthem raised.

Hallelujah! Shout your praises
For God's mighty acts of fame;
Excellent God's might and greatness;
Equal praises then proclaim.

Hallelujah! Sing your praises!
With the trumpet’s joyful sound;
Praises give with harp and psaltery,
Let God's glorious praise abound.

Hallelujah! Lift your praises,
With the flute God's praises sing;
Praise God with the clanging cymbals,
Let them with loud praises ring.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
All that breathe, resound God's praise;
Let the voices God has given
Joyful anthems ever raise.

The Psalter, 1912; alt.
Lizzie Tour­jée, 1874

This tune has grown on me; I didn't always think much of it. The second and fourth lines are better than the slightly frantic first and third. In The Music and Hymnody of the Methodist Hymnal (1911), author Carl Price describes WELLESLEY as "stately," which is not a term I would have chosen. Maybe they played it a lot slower in those days. Still, it's a tune that many have sung over the years and deserves to be remembered, though it doesn't appear in as many hymnals as it used to.

Not much more is known about Tour­jée (no known photograph of her, for example). I've found only one reference to a children's song written by her in a nineteenth-century anthology.

Many psalm paraphrases were written by well-known hymn writers such as Isaac Watts, but most older ones were anonymously written. This one comes mostly from the Presbyterian Psalter of 1912, though it is based on an earlier one.


Leland Bryant Ross said...

I agree that this is a well met text for the tune, but one must still have the wideness in God's mercy. Among the hymnals I have indexed so far, "There's a Wideness" is set to Wellesley in 12 hymnals (including 5 of our 8 Evergreen ones) vs. 2 (1 of them EBA) that use In Babilone; I also show it once to Stuttgart (in the 1966 ABC-DOC Hymns and Songs of the Spirit) and once to Richards ("arranged from EMMELAR", presumably the same as TCH's Armstrong (Richards), in the 1941 Christian Worship, which also gives Wellesley as a second tune). I see has several other suggestions, but none seems to me clearly "right"; so I'm back to either Wellesley or In Babilone; what's your choice? And do you have an emendation for the "Souls of men" line? "Mortal souls" is the best I've come up with.

Leland aka Haruo

C.W.S. said...

No, I'm not completely satisfied with any tune I've heard with There's a wideness in God's mercy. I grew up with IN BABILONE. The MCC hymnal project used BEECHER, like the Episcopal Hymnal 1940. The Episco 1982 update has a modern tune by Calvin Hampton (ST. HELENA), a dreary thing. No decision yet on a tune.

Also, I'm pondering the ideal arrangement of the text, which varies widely from hymnal to hymnal. Four-line verses or eight-line ones (which of course has bearing on the tune too)? Which ones to use or leave out? (no one sings them all). I would definitely leave out the "Souls of men" verse, as many hymnals do. Some denominations cut-and-paste it even further, assembling couplets within verses in different orders.

Everyone likes the hymn, but no one agrees on a definitive version. So I'm taking some time to come up with my own, both text and tune. Maybe for author Frederick W. Faber's birthday next year(June 28) or maybe sooner.