March, 2014: What Wondrous Love is This
March's Hymn of the Month is #261 in the Trinity Hymnal, "What Wondrous Love is This"
Here's our Sanctuary Choir singing "What Wondrous Love" and an interesting YouTube video of shape-note singers singing it in a way traditional to the Appalachian region.
"Wondrous Love" is one of the most well-known and widely used American hymns. The text was first published out of Lynchburg, VA in 1811 as a product of the Second Great Awakening and was used as a camp meeting song during the revival. These camp songs were sung to melodies popular at the time, since music notation wasn't printed in the camp books. The melody of the hymn predates this usage by more than a century: it's been used as a song about pirates, among other things!
The melody/text pairing we now know at "What Wondrous Love" was published in The Southern Harmony around the time of the start of the Civil War. This hymnal was extremely popular in the Appalachian region of the South, and carried with it the traditional 'shape note' singing seen in the YouTube above.
Just for fun, here's a recording of my City Singers Youth Choirs singing a version of this hymn last year.
More in Hymn of the Month
June 1, 2014June, 2014: O Church, Arise
May 8, 2014May, 2014: Be Thou My Vision
April 1, 2014April, 2014: I know that my Redeemer lives, Glory Hallelujah