O Thou, Before the World Began
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This hymn tune by Tabernacle Organist, Frank Asper, is definitely not one of the boring I-V-I-V hymns that are so harmonically-challenged they cry out for a last verse. On the contrary, the complexity of the melody and the interesting original harmony means this hymn is more resistant to free harmonization. Quite frankly, it doesn’t need it. But for a little extra something, I sat down at the organ console last Sunday before church and tinkered a bit. This was the result.
The first few phrases get not much more than passing tones. As the structure begins to be more widely-spaced, the opportunity presents itself to present some spicier chords to add an element of surprise to the harmony. The effect is subtle, but noticeable. Unlike some Sacrament hymns that end more triumphantly, the last half of the last verse of O Thou is quite somber and will require careful registration to make certain that the embellishments to the original do not detract from the spiritual message.189 O Thou, Before the World Began