Different tunes for much-loved hymns

When you have to sing much-loved hymns to a tune which is unfamiliar, it can do your head in sometimes.

I was brought up on singing “O Jesus I have promised” to the tune of Thornbury. My grandmother loved it. This is how it goes:

It was quite late in life that I discovered that this is not the only tune used for the hymn. It was written by John Earnest Bode in 1869. The tune first associated with it was written by Arthur Mann in 1881, is sometimes called “Angel’s Tune” and goes like this:

Another common tune for the hymn is “Wolvercote”:

But there’s also this more modern version to a tune called “Hatherop Castle” which is popular:

And, looking on YouTube there are many more tunes for the hymn, including this up-to-the-minute “frantic” version:

Another hymn which has been set to different tunes (indeed scores of them in this case) is “The Lord’s my shepherd”, the metrical version of Psalm 23.

The most commonly used tune is Crimond, as follows:

…very popular at funerals.

This alternative tune is a good one (not sure of its name):

And this version to Brother James’ Air is quite beautiful:

But my favourite setting is quite new. Yes, you guessed it, Howard Goodall’s version for “Vicar of Dibley” which I will forever associate with flying northward over the M40 somewhere near Thame:

…And while we’re on the subject of Dibley, here’s a little bonus in the shape of the hilarious end to the final episode:

3 thoughts on “Different tunes for much-loved hymns

  1. Pingback: O Jesus I Have Promised – St Margaret's Church Prestwich

  2. I’ve been searching for a recorded sung version of this hymn with the Thornbury tune, because I was raised with it and sang it at Junior school. I found one and only one on Youtube, but the video is so quiet as to be almost unlistenable. Thanks for your notes.

  3. Pingback: O Jesus I Have Promised – St Margaret's Church Prestwich

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