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What Wondrous Love is This? (string orchestra)

This arrangement of a famous Southern spiritual is set in a mood of mystery and wonder for string orchestra.

Same arrangement for SATBB choir.

The origins of this tune are lost, but it one of the few popular modal hymns in modern use. It is set in the dorian mode, perhaps the most often heard of the old modes. The casual listener might think it is in a minor key, but many of the tones that would complete the minor scale are absent. Even a casual listener can identify that the melody is not in a major key.

Set in the dorian mode with D as its home pitch, the signature has no sharps or flats. The opening phrases, however, are more or less in g minor. The most commonly used chords are d, e, a, C, F, G, b(dim), sometimes g, and a few other surprises, including the ending chord of Gmaj7. Much of the time, the tune begins and ends on unisons, octaves, or open fifths. It could possibly be said that harmonically at least this arrangement has no key at all, and that's a big part of what makes it sound mysterious.

The love that sent Jesus to the cross is in fact one of the great mysteries of all existence.

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What wondrous love?
What wondrous love?
What wondrous love?
What wondrous love?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O 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 Godís righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown 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.
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

What wondrous love?
What wondrous love!


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MP3 sound sample: Entire Piece (synthesizer/midi).



WHAT WONDROUS LOVE IS THIS?, arranged by Tom Kirkland for unaccompanied SATBB choir, comes in a pdf file of 274K, with an eight-page score and a license page, nine pages in all. Performance time should be about 3:30.


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Last update: 5 June 2017