Music For Good Friday

Music For Good Friday

This may not be the most ‘misfit’ of posts, but it’s hard to mark Good Friday without singing Isaac Watts‘ ‘When I Survey The Wondrous Cross‘. It is like a powerful, concise sermon set to music.

For most of my life, the standard tune has been ‘Rockingham’, but I have come to prefer ‘O Waly Waly’, which is now listed as an alternative tune in some books.

Why? When my sister and I were growing up, our Dad was under the impression that we were of Scots ancestry. We were surrounded by Scottish traditional music, be it EPs of bagpipes, Kenneth McKellar or Moira Anderson LPs, or The White Heather Club on TV. Among the songs we regularly heard was ‘The Water Is Wide‘, which is traceable back to 17th century Scotland. Combining this heritage with a teenage love of prog rock, my favourite version of the hymn is therefore Iona‘s, which appears below. (And how sad it is they are no longer touring or recording together.)

My one disappointment is that they don’t include the additional verse we sing in Methodist churches. Most hymn books contain four verses, but we sing five. Before the final verse, we sing

His dying crimson, like a robe,
spreads o’er his body on the tree;
then am I dead to all the globe,
and all the globe is dead to me.

Apparently, George Whitefield was the first to omit this verse.

(This web page includes not only that verse, but also a sixth, a doxology.)

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