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.
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.
All that breathe, resound God's praise;
Let the voices God has given
Joyful anthems ever raise.
The Psalter, 1912; alt.
Tune: WELLESLEY (18.104.22.168.)
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.