My Jesus, I Love Thee
I was sitting in church a few weeks ago, following the words in the hymnal because I had a sore throat and it hurt to sing, when we turned to “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” I’ve always loved this hymn–the melody is lovely, and the words are earnest. Yet as I listened to it, I realized how carefully one has to pay attention to the words on some verses to grasp their full meaning. The melody and harmonization/accompaniment are the same on each take, but the thoughts behind them differ. The rhythm of the melody is fine on some verses, but on others, it doesn’t emphasize the sentence structure very well, and meaning is lost if one is not carefully analyzing the words as one sings (or listens). “Hmm,” I thought, “I should make a choral arrangement of this song.”
With this intent, I copied down all four verses on a piece of paper during the offertory, and on Monday morning, I began work on the quickest choral arrangement I’ve ever written (since I have sooo many to compare it to…). My goal was to fix the problems I had perceived as best as I could with an eight-voice choir and everything I ever learned in Dr. W’s classes about text painting, the memory of every nuance Mr. S ever insisted on for the peformance of a piece in Cathedral Choir, and all the film music emoting and “timeless” techniques I learned at CCC. The purpose of music, after all, is to express, and as both Dr. W and Mr. S were fond of reminding us in class and choir, the purpose of music melded to words is to express the meaning of the words more fully than the words can do by themselves. The music should support the words and give life to them, not simply offer a pretty setting so a choir or congregation can happily sing them without processing them.
If you read the lyrics below, you’ll see that I ran two phrases together on the second verse. That wasn’t a typo–since I chopped out two beats in the arrangement to make it more apparent that the two are part of the same thought, I couldn’t quite convince myself to separate them in lyric format just for the sake of tradition. 🙂 I hope you enjoy the arrangement, performed by EWQLSO strings, which can be heard at this link (this is a newer version that what some of you may have been emailed): My Jesus, I Love Thee
Here’s the link to the .pdf score: My Jesus I Love Thee
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.
For Thee, all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior, art Thou:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now;
My Jesus, ’tis now.
I love Thee, Jesus, Savior.
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death.
I will praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath.
I’ll say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
“If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever (ever) adore Thee (adore Thee) in Heaven so bright.
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
“If ever I loved Thee, if ever I loved Thee,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”