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Jesus, Priceless Treasure (vocal solo w/accomp.)

I was on a small island in the Carribbean, lying in a hammock under a palm tree beside a sparkling azure bay, my seaplane anchored just offshore, sipping something with a funny little umbrella in it when this song just came to me, wafting on a warm sea breeze.

Well, not really. That is the way I wish it had happened. In reality, I was in the shower on a Friday morning, getting ready to go to work. There was no tropical sea breeze in the air, just the scent of Suave shampoo and Zest soap. It was warm and humid in there though, despite the cold wind blowing outside the window....

I was idling away on a kind of Jose Feliciano guitar and melody thing, and suddenly this lyric, which I had memorized nearly thirty years ago, came to mind. Now, such a thing happens quite frequently, but I never seem to be able to get it down on paper before it is gone. In this case, I studied the melody, decided D was a good key for it, and mentally wrote the first phrase, F#, D, G, F#, E, F#. Somehow, I rembered when in the shower on Saturday that I had a good musical idea the day before, and was able to reconstruct the tune beginning with the note sequence I had worked out. I sang it to myself a few times to refresh it, then, before my hair was completely dry, I sketched the melody into the computer. The rest of it just kind of happened as I fleshed it out on Saturday evening, after a day of one of my least favorite things: car shopping.

I'm not sure where the vaguely Carribbean feel came from. I was aiming for something more Latin. Maybe it is the tempo. Anyway, the end result is restful, easygoing, and peaceful, like the sense of calm in the midst of a storm that the lyric talks about.

+ + +

Jesus, priceless treasure, source of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me!
Oh, how long I've panted, and my heart has fainted,
Thirsting Lord, for Thee!
Thine I am, oh spotless Lamb!
I will never, never hide Thee,
Nothing else beside Thee!
Nothing else beside Thee!

(break)

End the fear and sadness, for the Lord of gladness,
Jesus enters in.
We who love the Father, though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within.
Fires may flash and thunders crash,
Yes, and sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me!
Jesus will not fail me!

(break)

Any burden I must bear, still in Thee is purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!
Jesus, priceless treasure!
Jesus, priceless treasure!
Jesus, priceless treasure!


+ + +

Talk about going to the well for a lyric! I learned this lyric while memorizing the first six and final movements of BWV227, Jesu, Priceless Treasure, by J.S. Bach (available elsewhere in the sheet music section of this site), back in 1976. The original lyric for the hymn was penned in German by J. Franck in 1655, and was translated to English by Catherine Winkworth in 1863. I have cut and pasted from a couple of different places in the original hymn text and modernized the English, but otherwise, the lyric for this song is by Franck and Winkworth.

I hope you find this a fun and thoughful interpretation of the text, rather than a trivialization. I think the text is very joyful, and while my little tune cannot hold a candle to the Johann Creuger hymn tune for simple majesty, it probably does sit better on the modern ear.

The score is for vocal solo, flute, guitar, bass, and wood block. No doubt there are many ways to use this in a worship setting, including congregational singing, and recordings of performances, however creative, are always welcome.

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



JESUS, PRICELESS TREASURE, accompanied vocal solo with lyric by Franck and Winkworth, music by Tom Kirkland, comes in a pdf file of 686K, with an eight-page score, a two-page melody line with chords, and a license page, eleven pages in all. Performance time should be approximately 3:45.


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Last update: 19 April 2017