Hallelujah (Denson, 1991 #146)

Flint Hill
02/19/10 09:01:50PM
The collected minutes from Sacred Harp singings in 2005 show that "Hallelujah" was the most frequently sung piece that year. We sang it at the Baptist Church, at revival meetings, and in Sacred Harp singings in West Georgia in the 1950s. It was an immensely popular song, though it never achieved the mainstream acceptance of "Amazing Grace" and "Wondrous Love".

The MP3 is HERE . (I will also post it to FOTMD.)

The lyrics are HERE

Lyrics to the first three verses are by Charles Wesley, 1759. The chorus is anonymous as far as I know. The first instance of the chorus is inserted in the middle of a sentence in Wesley's original eight-line stanza! In accord with regional tradition, the first verse of Amazing Grace is grafted onto the end of the song.

The tuning is Eebb (E2 E3 B2 B2) which starts an Ionian scale on the third fret of the paired melody strings. I play the song in noter-drone style.

The tune is traditional, pentatonic, and closely related to that of at least of at least six other shape note songs. The melody revolves around the dominant (B) rather than the tonic (E), and its last note is a stressed instance of the dominant. I would argue that this places it in the plagal Hypoionian mode in the key of E. About fifteen other Sacred Harp songs share this pattern,