Hymn #43: Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

From the 17th century through to about 50 years ago, music composition and performance reached extreme levels of craftsmanship. Music back then was a career very much like engineering or scientific research is today–highly refined and carefully and beautifully done. I’ve studied a great many different piano masterpieces and composers, and one characteristic of musicians and performers from that time was the constant experimentation and development of musical ideas. I am going to try that for today’s hymn.

Nearly all of the hymns I have played here have improvisation over the written music, but retaining the melody line. This time I’m going to take a big step into deeper waters. I will play the hymn as usual, but the second time through, I will do what is called a development section in classical music before returning to the hymn to finish. A development section generally is not singable or even really an instrumental–but a well done development connects enough that the listener understands the connection, but hears a new and significantly different variation. Playing multiple repeats of any music can get boring, but adding a development section expresses the performer’s creativity and can add interest to an otherwise repetitive performance. Will it work? Only you, the listener, can tell!