O Happy Home

Sometimes it surprises me how fast I can compose. It’s normally a slow, arduous process, that can end up taking weeks. But on a few rare occasions, it takes me less than a week to compose a three-minute piece for a cappella choir. That’s what just happened.

I was reading through an old poetry book that we had lying around the other day (looking for inspiration to write) and stumbled across a hymn called “O Happy Home.” I’d never seen it before, nor had I ever heard its original melody. The poem, though, struck me as being quite beautiful, and rather evocative. So I sat down with it at my piano and almost immediately I had composed the melody. It was sweet, and poignant, and fit the words rather well. All that was left was to write the other three voices. The sopranos would carry the melody, and they would be supported by the altos, tenors, and basses.

The poem describes what a happy home looks like: one where Christ is “loved the dearest,” where “two in heart united” (i.e. a man and his wife) live, where Christ is “not forgotten” and “every wounded spirit is brought…to Thee.” The poem ends with the hope of the final resurrection when we shall forever live with the Lord, in His “everlasting home of peace and love”. Here’s the text in full:

O happy home, where Thou art loved the dearest,
Thou loving Friend and Saviour of our race,
And where among the guests there never cometh
One who can hold such high and honored place!

O happy home, where two in heart united
In holy faith and blessed hope are one,
Whom death a little while alone divideth,
And cannot end the union here begun!

O happy home, whose little ones are given
Early to Thee in humble faith and prayer,
To Thee, their Friend, who from the heights of heaven
Guides them, and guards with more than mother’s care!

O happy home, where each one serves Thee, lowly,
Whatever his appointed work may be,
Till ev’ry common task seems great and holy,
When it is done, O Lord, as unto Thee!

O happy home, where Thou art not forgotten
When joy is overflowing, full and free,
O happy home, where ev’ry wounded spirit
Is brought, Physician, Comforter, to Thee—

Until at last, when earth’s day’s work is ended,
All meet Thee in the blessed home above,
From whence thou camest, where thou hast ascended,
Thine everlasting home of peace and love.

The hymn is comprised of stanzas 1, 2, 5, and 6. Beautiful, isn’t it? It was originally written in German by Karl Johann Philipp Spitta and published in 1833. The translation here was completed by Sarah Findlater in 1858.

I hope to get this performed one day. I’d love to hear how it sounds. If anyone would like to view the score to see about performing it, shoot me an email (jaynelmusic@gmail.com).

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