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

Sounding Childhood

There is a happy land

There is a happy land” was written by Andrew Young (1843), a teacher in Scotland, who based it on a rhythmic “Indian air” called “Happy Land” which he happened to hear played on the piano by a friend.  His hymn was to be used in his own Edinburgh school, but he then allowed Rev. James Gall to publish it in Sacred Song Book (1843).  According to hymnologist John Julian, it was “heard in Sunday Schools all over the world,” having been translated by various missionary organizations (A Dictionary of Hymnology 1161).  In dactylic dimeter and a hymn meter, its rhythm carries the lines, as do the unusual rhyme scheme (ABABCCCB) and refrains that punch the meaning.  The second stanza especially invokes the reader to “Come to this happy land” and questions “Why will ye doubting stand?”  The third stanza reminds the singer, “Bright is that happy land […] Love cannot die.”  By the conclusion, the narrator encourages his readers through the rhetoric of a competitive race: “On, then, to glory run,/ Be a crown and kingdom won” (v. 3).  The  tune (labelled “Happy Land”) may be the most appealing aspect of this hymn, created by its use of two simple, repeated, yet invigorating melodic phrases.

More discussion of this hymn can be found in Chapter 6 in British Hymn Books for Children.

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