|Arranger:||H. T. Burleigh (1939)|
|Incipit:||15555 77656 11511|
MC KEE has an interesting history. According to a letter from Charles V. Stanford (PHH 512) to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (who arranged the tune for piano in his Twenty-Four Negro Melodies, 1905), MC KEE was originally an Irish tune taken to the United States and adapted by African American slaves. It became associated with the spiritual "I Know the Angels Done Changed My Name," which appeared in J. B. T. Marsh's The Story of the Jubilee Singers with their Songs (1876).
Harry T. Burleigh (b. Erie, PA, 1866; d. Stamford, CT, 1949) arranged the tune to fit Dunkerley's text in 1939. As a setting for that text, the tune was published in The Hymnal 1940. Burleigh named the tune after Elmer M. Mc Kee, rector of St. George's Episcopal Church, New York, where Burleigh was the baritone soloist from 1894-1946.
Burleigh began his musical career as a choirboy in St. Paul's Cathedral, Erie, Pennsylvania. He also studied at the National Conservatory of Music, New York City, where he was befriended by Anton Dvorak and, according to tradition, provided Dvorak with some African American musical themes that became part of Dvorak's New World Symphony. Burleigh composed at least two hundred works but is most remembered for his vocal solo arrangements of African American spirituals. In 1944 Burleigh Was honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.
Sing stanzas 1, 2, and 5 in unison, the others in harmony. The instruction in The Hymnal 1940 for this tune is still helpful: sing this hymn "with dignity."
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988