This page was created by Donal Hegarty.  The last update was by Alisa Clapp-Itnyre .

Sounding Childhood

Father, in high heaven dwelling

Father, in high heaven dwelling,” though not popular in children’s hymn books, was included in British Hymn Books and here to exemplify newly written tunes of the Victorian era, even by unknown (possibly amateur) composers such as “W. Jackson,” which were complex and challenged children’s musical ability.  For example, it has unprepared dissonances, passing tones, and unpredicted tonal leaps, even jumping to e-flats. Changes in melody reflect the poetic content: two interlocking sentences of three poetic lines each reinforced by the rhyme scheme (AAB-CCB).  Praise is given first: “Father…dwelling /song be telling /Of Thy mercy large and free,” and then the signifier of that praise: “…Thy love has fed us/ …Thy care has led us,/ With…charity” as, for example, in the first verse. It is a challenging piece, musically and poetically, that Victorians expected of children.

More discussion on this hymn can be found in Chapter 3, British Hymn Books for Children.

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