If ever there was a phrase designed to evoke images in the mind of a child, it’s that one. I think the author, Cecil Frances Alexander, intended it to be so since it was first published in her work, “Hymns for Little Children”.
It certainly evoked images for me, though the “green hill” of my imagination was nothing like the reality. Still, it served the purpose and helped my wandering mind to remember Jesus during the Sacrament.
As an adult, it’s still my favorite of the hymns we use for our Sacrament services. (I’m apparently not alone, since it has now been published in many hundreds of hymnals worldwide.) It’s the hymn I turn to most often to keep my mind focused on the sacrifice of our Savior and his love for me.
The version in our hymn book contains four verses. The author penned five. The omitted verse is beautiful, but the meter makes it awkward (though not impossible) to include in a hymn setting:
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.
For this version of “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” I have set the four commonly-used verses to a new tune that’s been pestering me for… oh… ten years or so. It gets a bit embarrassing to sift through my old to-do lists and see the same entry transferred over that many times. On the other hand, somehow it feels like a bigger accomplishment when I finally get to cross it off! 🙂
Here’s a recording of the solo version, featuring Tj Pini on vocals and Jana Hanni on violin:
There is also an SATB version available.
You’ll notice that I altered verse three just a smidge. Which is a thing I forbid people to do with my own lyrics. Which seems a bit cheeky. Oh well, when my lyrics enter the public domain, you may alter them with impugnity. I promise not to haunt you.
Next up: another new Christmas song.