Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Horatio W. Parker

Horatio William Parker (September 15, 1863–December 18, 1919) is generally considered the finest American composer of his time, though of course there was a definite preference for European composers back then. From a review of one of his chamber music pieces:

Mr. Horatio W. Parker, as our readers may know, is one of the most competent of that much advertised but little heard class, the American composer -- so competent that he is good enough to travel simply as composer, without any stilts of Americanism.

During his long tenure as music professor and later as dean of the music department at Yale University, he continued to compose much church music, and for many of those years he still commuted to Boston on weekends, serving as the organist at Trinity Church, and later to New York City, at the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas. He edited a hymnal for use at Yale in which he and his fellow professor Harry Jepson arranged all the tunes for men's voices.

Parker's several hymn tunes mostly appeared in the Episcopal hymnals of 1892 and 1916, but a few made their way into other books. This one was composed specifically for this interesting text by Horatius Bonar that deserves to be better known.

Jesus, Sun and Shield art thou;
Sun and Shield forever:
Never canst thou cease to shine,
Cease to guard us never.
Cheer our steps as on we go,
Come between us and the foe.

Jesus, Love and Life art thou,
Life and Love forever:
Ne’er to quicken shalt thou cease,
Or to love us never.
All of life and love we need
Is in thee, in thee indeed.

Jesus, Peace and Joy art thou,
Joy and Peace forever:
Joy that fades not, changes not,
Peace that leaves us never.
Joy and peace we have in thee,
Now and through eternity.

Jesus, Song and Strength art thou,
Strength and Song forever:
Strength that never can decay,
Song that ceaseth never.
Still to us this strength and song
Through eternal days prolong.

Horatius Bonar, 1861
Horatio W. Parker, 1895

One Year Ago: Horatio W. Parker


Leland Bryant Ross said...

I would really like to take a look at this hymnal (1907 Yale), but when I look it up at OCLC Worldcat I find many if not most of the copies listed are the revised edition of 1931, which doesn't list Parker as an editor. Do you happen to know a library that has the 1907 edition? (There was also a 1924 edition; not sure if Parker was still listed on that one, which was published several years after his death.)


C.W.S. said...

I'd like to see this one too. I figure Yale probably has a few copies, maybe even some no one realizes they have, somewhere. I did find one for sale online for a bit over $200, so it's fairly rare.

I don't think it was ever available on Google Books before they took away access to hundreds of hymnals and church music books last month. I hope not, anyway; I'd really feel bad if I missed the chance to download it.