Friday, January 13, 2017

John Darwall

Composer and Anglican priest John Darwall was baptized on this date in 1732. For most of the last three hundred years his birthdate was unknown, but more recently both the online Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and Glory to God: A Companion (2016) by Carl P. Daw list the date as December 27, 1731.

Dr. Daw goes on to say that Darwall was "a talented amateur musician, (who) did much to revive congregational singing at the parish where he served longest, working particularly to encourage the singing of the psalms at a less dreary tempo than had become customary." 

Though he wrote tunes to accompany all of the paraphrased psalms in the New Version by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, we only sing one of those tunes today, the one which was written for Psalm 148.  However, this tune is sung across most denominations and to many different texts (three others thus far on the blog, and the fourth today).  

Break, day of God, O break,
The night has lingered long;
Our hearts with courage wake,
To strive against all wrong:
O Lamb of God, whose love is light,
Shine on my soul, and all is bright.

Break, day of God, O break!
The earth with strife is worn;
The hills with thunder shake,
Hearts of the people mourn;
Break, day of God, sweet day of peace,
And bid the shout of warriors cease!

Break, day of God, O break,
Like to the days above!
Let justice now awake,
And faith, and hope, and love:
For lo! we see the brightening sky;
The golden morn is drawing nigh.

Henry Burton, 1900; alt.
John Darwall, 1770

The first lines of each of Darwall's tunes can be seen at this site, though unfortunately not the whole tunes.

Seven Years Ago: John Darwall

Eight Years Ago: John Darwall

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