Let The Lower Lights Be Burning 2

Songs of Amherst College, the "Singing College"

As Written, Sung, and Modified . .

"Midst the golden haze of college days, our hearts to thee turn back."
--Draper Cooke Bartlett, AC1903; "To the Fairest College"

Origin of "Paige's Horse".

After arranging "Paige's Horse" to my liking, I shared it with my Barbershopping friend Lionel Edison "Ed" Dotson, who calls himself "ChordWorshipper" and who has been a firmly kind mentor . . . expert at such arcane aspects of music as solfege, shaped notes, and arranging music in the Barbershop style while honoring the harmonic progressions implied by song melodies.

Ed's first response to my humble offering was "That's right perty, Steve. It's an old hymn isn't it?"

Well, I knew that my principal source (Amherst College Songs, op. cit.) has "Words by F. J. E. Woodbridge '89" and "Arr. by W. P. Bigelow '89" displayed (p. 41) and that the composer is not listed there; but that was all I knew in those regards. So, I responded: "Not that I know of. I know it as a favorite song sung at Amherst College. If you know more of its history, I'm eager to share your knowledge.".

Almost immediately, Ed wrote back: "That song is called 'Let The Lower Lights Be Burning' and it's in the Broadman Hymnal. Written by P. Bliss.". Some searching on the Web and a few more email exchanges with Ed led me to conclude that we were talking about

B. B. McKinney, 1940. _The Broadman Hymnal–Round Notes_. Church Street Press (Genevox/Life Street Press), Nashville, ~570pp.

I ordered a copy of that hymnal. Here is a graphically enhanced copy of Hymn 262, "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning", kludged together from scans of the two facing pages on which the hymn appears there:

"Let The Lower Lights Be Burning"

Hymn 262, Broadman Hymnal (op. cit.; public domain)

Once I knew that "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning" is the name of the predecessor to "Paige's Horse", I searched the Web and quickly found:


http://radio.weblogs.com/0128891/categories/letTheLowerLightsBeBurning

http://www.rrca.org/publicat/lower.htm

http://www.gospelmusic.org.uk/h-m/let_the_lower_lights_be_burning.htm

http://junior.apk.net/~bmames/ht0327_.htm

http://sniff.numachi.com/~rickheit/dtrad/pages/tiLOWERLTS.html

http://www.anotherstep.net/hymns/Lowerlights.htm

http://www.michael-thomas.com/music/church/hymn/let_the_lower_lights_be_burning_OH.htm

http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Let_the_Lower_Lights_Be_Burning

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/l/llowerlb.htm[Quick listen, but not exactly as in Broadman Hymnal (op. cit.)]

[Recommended-->]http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Let_the_Lower_Lights_Be_Burning/score [<--Recommended; requires Scorch plug-in]

http://www.ussboston.org/shore.html

http://www.audiblefaith.com/pages/sg500450

http://www.miamirunnersclub.com/big_kick/mj_page2.htm

http://texaswma.org/archives/nat_wma_theme_02-03.htm

http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/biorpbliss.html [Biographical]

http://chi.gospelcom.net/GLIMPSEF/Glimpses/glmps144.shtml [Biographical]

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/b/l/bliss_pp.htm[Biographical]

http://junior.apk.net/~bmames/hymnsjs.htm

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/5023/light.html

Doubtless, there are many other Websites related to this obviously popular but hitherto-unknown-to-me hymn! I have not tried to provide here a truly exhaustive listing of all possible such resources. However, if you discover any URL that (for any reason) you believe absolutely should be added to the above listing, then please provide the URL and say just what it is at that page that is indispensable to, but not yet available within, the development of this discussion.

And to think that "Paige's Horse" is listed on p. 41 of Amherst College Songs, without any reference at all to its origins; while, in the Preface to the same book (op. cit., p. 2), William A. Vollmer, '09, writes : "The collection is arranged according to broad categories. Pages 1-45 contain Amherst Songs; pages 46-110 Songs familiar at Amherst; pages 111-135 Glee Club Songs."!

Please forgive me for having believed, all these years, that "Paige's Horse" was unique to Amherst College! But I had no good reason to believe otherwise, not realizing while at Amherst as a student that "Arr. by" without "Music by" or "Composed by" was a strong hint that the song had other origins.

Evidently, the hymn itself must have been so well known during the early 1900s that Editor William P. Bigelow, who also arranged "Paige's Horse" without giving Bliss Philip Paul (1838-1876) one whit of attribution, must have felt that the words by F. J. E.  Woodbridge were hilariously satirical; and, that the hymn itself was so well known at the time that no attribution was needed! (At least, that is the kindest light that I can shed on this situation.)

What other surprises await us in this venture?

At least one answer to that question:

On 4 June 2007 I received an email:

Here is a link from the Amherst website that refers to the origin of the song "Paige's Horse." It appears that the original hymn would have been well known enough on the 1880s that it didn't require a reference when it was first written. http://www.amherstiana.org/music/gleeclub3.html Best regards, Jay Hunt (AC '82)

Great, Jay! Thanks for the nice reference!!

Yet another arrangement of "Paige's Horse".

Anyway, Ed Dotson was inspired to create a new arrangement of "Paige's Horse", based upon the tune of Hymn 262, The Broadman Hymnal (op. cit., ©1940). Since the slightly different melody in the Amherst College Songs (op. cit., ©1926) source predates that hymnal, it might be said that it ought to be taken as the more authoritative reference. However -- and especially in light of the lack of citation in the Amherst book -- I am not comfortable adopting either of those sources as gospel.

Perhaps some reader can point me to an autograph-manuscript copy in the hand of Bliss Philip Paul(1838-1876). That I would believe.

You can hear Ed's arrangement of "Paige's Horse"

Loading the player ...

, as "sung" by the Myriad Software Harmony Assistant Virtual Singer (after Ed tweaked it to sing the pitches in just intonation, as good Barbershoppers are trained to sing). Ed is much better at tweaking Virtual Singer than I am; he is much more expert than I, at Barbershop arranging; so,

this one is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED LISTENING !

More about Barbershop Music

All suggestions for improvements to any aspect of this ongoing effort will be gratefully received and carefully considered.

Thank you!

Stephen A. "Steve" Langford, AC1963

Tel. 520 297 0448



This page last revised on 27 February 2005.