March 08, 2009

Murillo's Lesson

Here are the lyrics to the Sacred Harp song Murillo's Lesson, number 358 (lyrics credited from the Sacred Melodeon) a hymn especially popular (I just read) in Cleburne County, Alabama.

As down a lone valley with cedars o’erspread,
From war’s dread confusion I pensively strayed,
The gloom from the face of fair heaven retired,
The winds hushed their murmurs, the thunders expired.
Perfumes as of Eden flowed sweetly along,
A voice as of angels enchantingly sung,
Columbia, Columbia to glory arise,
The queen of the world and the child of the skies.

Fair science her gate to thy sons shall unbar,
And the east see thy morn hide the beams of her star.
New bards and new sages unrivalled shall soar
To fame unextinguished when time is no more.
To Thee the last refuge of virtue designed,
Shall fly from all nations the best of mankind;
There grateful to heaven with transport shall bring
To Jesus, the author of nations will sing.
I just found this amazing recording of Murillo's Lesson at this website, bee mp3, performed by Jimmy Wofford & the Churchmen. They have a pretty impressive website format, making tons of recordings from WFMU & old 78s free online, easy to download, & easy to embed:
Jimmy Wofford and the Churchmen - Murillo's Lesson

Found at bee mp3 search engine

He sings the shapes first, as custom with shape-note songs. There's several videos on the Youtubes of the Sacred Harp version:


jessica said...

I had never really sung this song outside of the south until about the last year or so. Now it keeps popping up at conventions -- and the occasional local singing. I've seen folks in some parts of Alabama sing only one verse and skip the notes altogether. I think this is what people do when they're leading it more out of obligation/expectation than out of a genuine appreciation for the tune.

And I swear that Jimmy Wofford actually sings "The gloom from the days of their head had retired."

David said...

LOL WTF! Amazing. Did Conlon Nancarrow do the piano part?
[composition major "humor"]

--David W. (Seattle)

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, Jimmy Wofford only played the piano in this recording. The lyrics were sang by Ronnie Turner.