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Wondrous Love

[ Roud 5089 ; Ballad Index LxU098 ; trad.]

The Young Tradition sang the Sacred Harp hymn Wondrous Love in 1968 on their last LP, Galleries. They also sang it on November 17, 1968 at their concert at Oberlin College, Ohio, that was published in 2013 on their Fledg'ling CD Oberlin 1968. Heather Wood commented on this song and on Idumea:

A Sacred Harp or shape note hymn. We learned this in Washington, DC from Helen Schneyer, a wonderful singer of Gospel, blues, and Victorian parlour songs, and assorted friend including Jonathan Eberhart, Andy Wallace, Bob Clayton, and Rik Schneyer. We probably don't use the standard arrangement, since none of us could really read music (we could maybe spell it out with one finger). Even the shapes didn't help us, although they were designed for the musically illiterate.

Martin Simpson played the tune of Wondrous Love in 1994 on his album of instrumental arrangements of American gospel songsm A Closer Walk with Thee.

Sarah McQuaid learned Wondrous Love from a 1956 record by Jean Ritchie and Paul Clayton, American Folk Tales and Songs, and sang it in 2008 on her CD I Won't Go Home 'Til Morning. Her wonderfully detailed notes on this song—more than three full pages, including an e-mail exchange with Jean Ritchie— are a fascinating reading and well worth buying the CD.

Maddy Prior, Hannah James and Giles Lewin sang Wondrous Love in 2012 on their CD 3 for Joy. Maddy Prior commented in the liner notes:

I learnt this from Sandy and Jeannie Darlington back in the 1960s. The Sacred Harp style of singing particular to the Southern American Baptists has a place of great affection in the repertoire of the English folk world. Hannah and Giles constructed their own harmonies for this.

Alasdair Roberts of The Furrow Collective sang Wondrous Love on their 2014 album At Our Next Meeting. He commented in their sleeve notes:

Our version of this American folk hymn, which was first published in 1811, comes from a recording by Jean Ritchie on the album American Songs of Revolutionary Times and the Civil War Era which I bought many years ago.

This video shows The Furrow Collective at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow in February 2014:

Lyrics

What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul,
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul,
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God's righteous frown
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing,
To God and to the Lamb I will sing,
To God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

(repeat first verse)