About Hilton Kean Jones

Composer and performer, retired college music professor, lyricist.

Come, O Spirit, with Your Sound

Pentecost2This is the second in a series of Pentecost hymn-tune posts. In the New Century Hymnal, it’s #265. The hymn tune is BOUNDLESS MERCY from the Union Harmony, 1837. The harmonization is by Hilton Rufty (1934), but the flute obbligato in the 2nd verse is mine. Copyright restrictions don’t permit a text to sing from, but if you have a NCH there’s a four-bar organ intro; then, start singing with the flute entrance. The author of the text is John A. Dalles.

You’re probably heard of the Southern Harmony, source of many famous hymns tunes such as Amazing Grace. The Union Harmony is equally interesting.

A reminder that all the music I’ve put together for Lakewood UCC since we began the covid-19 lockdown is available as a free streaming playlist at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/music-at-lakewood.
 

Hail, O Festival Day

PentecostThis coming Sunday is Pentecost, a major church feast day. In its honor, I’m going to post a couple hymns prior to Sunday and a couple the days after. The first is this one, Hail, O Festival Day. You are definitely welcome to sing along. The intro is organ only; start singing when the brass come in.

The respresentative text may be found at https://hymnary.org/text/lo_the_fair_beauty_of_earth_englishhymna (or in the New Century Hymnal #262). Notice that a couple of the verses are for Ascension, a couple for Easter, and the rest–the ones you should sing–for Pentecost.

The author is Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (https://hymnary.org/person/Fortunatus_VHC). I’ve always like my own name, all three of ’em, but Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus is definitely a name to envy!

So, here’s the first of some Pentecost hymns. You’ll be able to find it, and all the other music I’ve posted for Lakewood UCC since beginning the covid-19 lockdown at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/music-at-lakewood.

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

joyful joyfulWhen we were much, much, much younger my sister and I would slap-dash our way through the 4-hands transcriptions of Beethoven’s symphonies, collapsing in giggles whenever one or the other of us would beat the other to the end of a movement!

So, out of that memory springs the approach for this final Earth Day hymn-a-day marathon: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. #4 in the New Century Hymnal. Here’s a representative text: https://hymnary.org/text/joyful_joyful_we_adore_thee.

But — back to the symphonies, 4-hands — before the hymn itself, there’s two fragments from the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony from which this famous hymn is drawn: first, the little Turkish march theme in which you can hear the famous hymn melody lurking but not entirely exposed, then the main theme as it first appears with the melody in augmentation in the upper voices with a rumbling stream of eighth notes in the lower voices. Both those fragments are from a 4-hands edition of the 9th symphony, with me playing both parts since Lucy, my sister, is in Hawaii and I’m in Florida.

After those two fragments, then comes the hymn as we know it but with me improvising a 4-hands version as if Lucy and I were doing it. “4-hands” means literally, four hands, or two people with two hands each, playing on the same piano. The literature for piano, 4-hands is very, very extensive and is considered much more important that literature for 2 pianos! It’s a medium I love. It’s VERY social and a lot of fun. I often require composition students to write in it when learning to write for orchestra because it teaches them to not mask the counterpoint of the different voices.

The picture above is Lucy and I playing some 4-hands music at Lakewood UCC way back in 2013.

This Is My Father’s World

hkj at pianoAt Lakewood UCC we’re very concerned that the words to our prayers, hymns, and anthems all use inclusive language for humanity and expansive language for God. That’s a deep statement, and if you ponder it for a bit — inclusive language for humanity…expansive language for God — you might glimpse how our language for humanity in the past may have been exclusionary and our language for God, restricting. I asked Rev. Wells for suggestions for hymns during this week when we’re celebrating Earth Day. This Is My Father’s World was one of her suggestions! When I queried her about the patriarchal language of the title, her response was, as always, enlightened and compassionate. Here’s what she said, “Many of us grew up singing This Is My Father’s World and know it. Yes, it uses masculine language for God, but we do our best. Don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or become legalistic.” It’s great working for someone who really thinks things through.

Here’s words to the hymn so you can sing along: https://hymnary.org/text/this_is_my_fathers_world_and_to_my.

This is a simple rendition, just piano and a string pad. It’s what I would have heard at night as a child as almost every night my mother (violin) and father (piano) would play together in the front room while I feel asleep on the couch. I assume they treated my sister to the same pleasure, but I don’t remember as she’s about 10 years older than me. They favored a romantic style of rubato, improvisational playing of the Fritz Kreisler sort. Guess that accounts for my eclectic tastes.

For the Beauty of the Earth

for the beauty of the earthThere is probably no more archetypal Thanksgiving Day song than this. It should easily be the quintessential Earth Day song as well.

It’s a song every child probably knows by hear. As such, it deserves a simple, childlike, reverent simplicity. That’s what I’m shootintg for her with organ flute stops and a woodwind quartet.

To sing along, here’s a link to a representative text of four verses: https://hymnary.org/text/for_the_beauty_of_the_earth.