By Richard Arnest
For flute and soprano
Published by Music Under Construction
Includes 2 scores
Wondrous Love is an old shape-note hymn, most widely distributed through its inclusion in The Southern Harmony, a compilation first published by William Walker in 1835 then by B.F. White in the Sacred Harp of 1844. Its origins are somewhat obscure.
Like many songs (including the Star Spangled Banner), the tune can be traced back to a broadside ballad – in this case Captain Kid's Farewel to the Seas from 1701. The tune may be even older.
The three-part setting printed in The Southern Harmony was arranged by James Christopher of Spartanburg, South Carolina for Walker. The text dates from around 1811, published that year in both Lexington, Kentucky and Lynchburg, Virginia. It may have been written by Alexander Means, a pastor from Georgia. In any case, it is one of the most well known American hymn tunes.
The cover image is from an early edition of The Southern Harmony.