Name that Tune!

by Chad Fothergill

If you’ve ever paged through the tune index of Evangelical Lutheran Worship, you may have noticed that some entries—see, for instance, Ach bleib mit deiner Gnade and Agincourt Hymn—are indented and italicized. As was practiced in Lutheran Book of Worship and Service Book and Hymnal, these specially formatted entries indicate other names used for tunes by previous hymnals or, in some cases, by other denominations.

A leisurely stroll through any hymnal companion such as Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship often provides fascinating glimpses into the origins of tune names, as well as ways in which names have changed across generations of hymnal compilation, editing, and production. The practice of assigning tune names emerged in English psalters around the turn of the seventeenth century, and Thomas Ravenscroft’s 1621 psalter was the first publication to systematically assign names—usually of towns with important cathedrals—to its tunes. Have you ever looked for a setting of the tune Southwell? If so, thank Mr. Ravenscroft for that name! Have you ever heard the tune for the hymn “Beautiful Savior” referred to simultaneously as Crusader’s Hymn, St. Elizabeth, and Schönster, Herr Jesu? If so, thank composer Franz Liszt, who borrowed this nineteenth-century Silesian folk melody for the “crusader’s march” in his 1873 oratorio, The Legend of St. Elizabeth!

As naming tunes became widespread practice, Lutheran chorale melodies came to be known by their first few words such as Ein feste Burg or Vom Himmel hoch. However, this posed a problem for multiple texts that were sung to the same melody, resulting in several hymn tune “homonyms,” or melodies that sounded the same but were identified by different names. Depending on the composer or publisher, settings of what we know today as Herzlich tut mich verlangen might be titled Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder; Befiehl du deine Wege; or O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden. Hymnals from Anglican and Episcopal traditions often refer to this same melody as Passion Chorale. Even within a single denomination, names for the same tune may change as hymnal committees and publishers weigh new scholarship, tastes, and conventions. In Evangelical Lutheran Worship, tunes once named for their composers have been revised: Weyse (as it was known in Service Book and Hymnal) became Den signede dag while Taulé (as it was known in With One Voice) became Toda la tierra.

Although the family of Evangelical Lutheran Worship resources such as Vocal Descants for the Church Year uses tune names matched to the hymnal itself, other collections shelved in our choral and organ libraries from a variety of times, places, and publishers may instead utilize some of these alternate names. Thus, it is easy to scan a resource’s listing of tunes and miss a melody that is actually included in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. For example, Bach’s so-called “Schübler” organ chorales contain a setting of Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter, a melody we know as Lobe den Herren. Similarly, some editions of Buxtehude’s chorale-based organ works include a set of variations on Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott, but many will recognize the melody as Vater unser.

Accordingly, the following list (far from comprehensive) is offered as a starting place for recognizing both common and lesser-known tune “homonyms,” and will hopefully assist organists, instrumentalists, and cantors in making the most of older or seemingly obsolete collections that hold wonderful treasures hidden under different names.

Bolded tune names indicate those used by Evangelical Lutheran Worship (with associated hymn numbers in parentheses), and alternate names for each tune are shown in italics.

An Wasserflüssen Babylon (340) | Ein Lämmlein geht

Assurance (638) | Blessed Assurance

Austria (823) | Austrian Hymn | Haydn

Bicentennial (484) | Gift of Finest Wheat

Chesterfield (239, 551) | Richmond

Christus, der ist mein Leben (539) | Ach, bleib mit deiner Gnade

Converse (742) | Erie

Dejlig er den himmel blå (301) | Celestia

Den blomstertid nu kommer (830) | Blomstertid

Den signede dag (627) | Weyse

Den store hvide flok (425) | Behold a Host | Great White Host

Deo gracias (316, 322) | Agincourt Hymn

Det kimer nu til julefest (298) | Emmanuel

Divinum mysterium (295) | Corde natus ex parentis

Dix (302, 879) | Treuer Heiland

Dundee (758, 863) | French Tune

Easter Hymn (365) | Worgan

Ebenezer (327, 511) | Ton-y-Botel

El desembre congelat (299) | Lo desembre congelat

Ellacombe (361, 521, 722) | Ave Maria, klarer und lichter Morgenstern

Es ist das Heil (442, 590) | St. Paul

Fred til bod (380, 381) | Easter Glory

Freu dich sehr (256, 672, 783) | Genevan 42

Gabriel’s Message (265) | Basque Carol

Gelobt sei Gott (385) | Vulpius

Gethsemane (347, 609) | Ajalon | Petra | Redhead | Readhead No. 76

Grosser Gott (414) | Hursley (closely related variant) | Te Deum

Her kommer dine arme små (286) | Paedia

Herr Jesu Christ, meins (404) | Breslau

Herzlich tut mich verlangen (351, 352, 606) | Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder | Befiehl du deine Wege | O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden | Passion Chorale

I Am the Bread (485) | Bread of Life (Toolan)

Ist Gott für mich (788) | Roland’s Tune

Iste confessor (766) | Rouen

Italian Hymn (408, 673) | Giardini | Moscow | Trinity

Jeg er så glad (271) | Christmas Eve

Jesus Loves Me (595) | China

Kuortane (313, 576) | Nyland

Lobe den Herren (858, 859) | Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter

Munich (514, 810) | Meiningen | O Gott, du frommer Gott

Narodil se Kristus Pán (291) | Be Ye Joyful | Salvator natus

National Anthem (891) | America | National Hymn

Nyt ylös, sieluni (827) | Suomi

O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte (833) | König

O Heiliger Geist (405) | O Jesulein süss

O Jesu, än de dina (468) | Franzén

O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (480, 568) | Innsbruck

Old 124th (321) | Genevan 124 | Toulon

Rendez à Dieu (478) | Genevan 98 | Genevan 118

Romedal (730) | Herre Gud, dit dyre navn

St. Magnus (432) | Nottingham

Salzburg (310, 876) | Alle Menschen müssen sterben

Schönster Herr Jesu (838) | Crusader’s Hymn | St. Elizabeth

Sicilian Mariners (545) | O sanctissima

Song 13 (398) | Light Divine

Spirit Life (457) | Waterlife (Hanson)

Terra Patris (824) | Terra beata

Thompson (608) | For You and For Me | Softly and Tenderly

Toda la tierra (266) | Taulé

Tryggare kan ingen vara (781) | Sandell

Tuya es la gloria (849) | Rio de la Plata

Unser Herrscher (533) | Neander

Valet will ich dir geben (344) | St. Theodulph

Vater unser (746, 747) | Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott

Victory (366) | Palestrina

Ville du Havre (785) | It Is Well

Wade in the Water (459) | Trouble the Water

Walton (658, 719) | Beethoven | Fulda | Gardiner | Germany | Melchizedec

Warum sollt ich (273) | Ebeling

Was frag ich nach der Welt (806) | Darmstadt | O Gott, du frommer Gott

Waterlife (732) | Borning Cry

Wer nur den lieben Gott (769) | Neumark

Werde munter (501) | Jesu, Joy

Yigdal (831) | Leoni

Your Only Son (336) | Lamb of God

Posted on May 29, 2019 2:28:49 PM
Filed Under: Hymnody,

Chad Fothergill

Written by Chad Fothergill

Chad Fothergill is a musicologist, organist, writer, and teacher based in Birmingham, Alabama.