From Father to Son
My son has announced his engagement to his girlfriend of four years. I don’t know if my son and his fiancé are looking for song recommendations for their ceremony, but if you know me, you know that I have at least one. I recommend “Love Is the Gracious Gift” which is hymn number 505 in our hymnal Christian Worship. As is usual with most of our hymns, the lyrics will take your breath away, and musically, it’s also a masterpiece. Many of you from my generation will know this tune as “Morning Has Broken”; made famous by Cat Stevens.
The tune has Gaelic roots and is played to a quirky 9/8 time. I’m a bit critical on time signatures and as I teach young guitarists, I always stress counting out the proper time as they play. For example, to strum ¾ time, you count: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, etc. with the emphasis on the first note (think waltz time I tell them!). A lot of contemporary songs are played in 6/8 time. I usually describe this as double ¾ time, counted 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5-6 with the emphasis on the first and fourth beats. But 9/8 time? I believe that this is actually called a triple compound meter. It’s to be counted 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 with the emphasis on the first, forth and seventh beats. It sounds complicated but in this case, it is easy to play. It has a lilting folk dance-type quality to it. “Ode to Joy” is also played in this time signature.
Here is the wedding verse from the hymn (as you read, sing it to “Morning has Broken”):
Love in a marriage, love freely given;
Love of a husband, love of a wife;
Made to continue, blossom, and flourish;
Grow ever deeper throughout this life.
– Donald E. Smith
It’s also a song that lends itself well to a guitar/keyboard accompaniment; in fact the hymnal version has guitar chords.
Congratulations Chris & Lauren and May the Lord bless your union.