When choosing videos to accompany the hymns I try to choose ones that best capture the spirit of the song as it has been important to me. I try to stick to the traditional and best known tunes in the case where alternate tunes might be used.
Join We All With One Accord- Matthew of Kunwald (1457)
Matthew (1442?-1500) was one of the first priests of the Unitas Fratrum, ordained in 1467 the year the Unitas decided it was time to make the complete break with the Roman orders and establish their own priesthood. He was one of three chosen by "the lot" for ordination. As described in Wikipedia:
After choosing nine members of the Unity that the synod attendees felt had gifts suitable for ministry, they took twelve slips of paper and wrote the words “it is he” on three of them. The slips of paper with those words would be called the positive lot because the members that drew those slips of paper would be selected as priests. It was also possible that none of the positives would be drawn, which would be seen as a sign from God that no priests should be selected. (-Link)This process would be utilized countless times in the coming centuries to make major decisions.
This hymn, written most likely in the first years of the organizing of some of the Hussite followers into the Unitas is often considered the first hymn written by the Brethren. Michael Weisse is sometimes credited with writing it, but dates don't match and Weisse is usually given credit as a translator of the hymn into German.
Putting the hymn into historical context, it is no surprise that the theme of Church unity and the Body of Christ would be its theme. It was 42 years since Jan Hus was martyred. A number of different factions vied for supremacy. The group, soon to be known as the Unitas Fratrum took that call to unity very seriously, making it their name!
Join we all with one accord;It remains one of the favorite hymns of the Moravian Church. It is traditionally sung to a catchy, upbeat tune written in the early 1500s by Jan Roh, that makes the hymn not only fun to sing, but also fun to play and listen to.
Great Hymns of the Church
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling- Charles Wesley (1747)
The prolific hymn writer, Methodist Charles Wesley, captures the heart of Christian faith in what is one of his most popular hymns. It is found, according to the Dictionary of North American Hymnology in 1,328 hymnals in their index, even more than Amazing Grace. Wesley brings together many great allusions and metaphors.
Love divine, all loves excelling,The hymn's fourth verse brings it all together in what to me are some of the greatest lines in English hymnody:
Finish, then, thy new creation;Lost in wonder, love and praise! Joy rings forth in ways few hymns can match!
There are three different tunes used for this hymn. Here is the St. Olaf Choir at one of their Christmas events singing it to the tune of Hyfrydol.
Gospel-type Hymns and Songs
I'll Fly Away- Albert Brumley (1932)
Albert Brumley was a prolific shape-note and Gospel music composer with over 600 songs to his credit. This one is considered one of the most popular and most often recorded in many genres. It is a staple at many bluegrass jams.
According to interviews, Brumley came up with the idea for the song while picking cotton on his father's farm in Rock Island, Oklahoma. Brumley says that as he worked he was "humming the old ballad that went like this: 'If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly,' and suddenly it dawned on me that I could use this plot for a gospel-type song." The song Brumley described appears to be "The Prisoner's Song". It was an additional three years later until Brumley worked out the rest of the song, paraphrasing one line from the secular ballad to read, "Like a bird from prison bars has flown" using prison as an analogy for earthly life. Brumley has stated, "When I wrote it, I had no idea that it would become so universally popular." -Link
Some glad morning when this life is over,The dilemma- which version to pick? I gave in to the wondrous Allison Krauss/Gillian Welch version from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Enjoy!
Okay, this is one version of I'll Fly Away I can't resist. Here's a great jazz arrangement by one of the up and coming young trumpet players, John Raymond, with his group, Real Feels.