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Composer: Joseph Barnby

Barnby was a composer, conductor and (like his father Thomas Barnby) an organist. He entered the choir of York Minster at age seven, and was an organist and choirmaster at twelve. In 1854 he went to London and entered the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied under Cipriani Potter and Charles Lucas. In 1856, he competed for the first Mendelssohn Scholarship. When the examinations were over, of the nineteen applicants, he was tied for first place with Arthur Sullivan. After a second test, Sullivan won. Barnby was organist at Mitcham, St. Michael’s, Queenhithe, and St. James’ the Less, Westminster, before he was appointed to St. Andrew’s, Wells Street, where he remained from 1863 to 1871, establishing the musical reputation of the… Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: Joseph Barnby (1889)
Incipit: 13555 55177 62345
Key: E♭ Major
Copyright: Public Domain


O perfect Love, all human thought transcending

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou in sacred vow dost join in one.

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Joseph Barnby (PHH 438) composed O PERFECT LOVE and said it was a "hymn tune in the natural style and idiom … of our own time." Originally an anthem, O PERFECT LOVE was shortened into a hymn tune for publication in The Hymnal Companion (1890) and in the Church Hymnary (1898). The tune is also known as FIFE and SANDRINGHAM. Erik Routley (PHH 31) calls Barnby's hymn tunes "shamelessly sentimental." O PERFECT LOVE is surely an example of what he means (Barnby's tunes at 438 and 447 are not). Sometimes thought to be the most notorious product of the Victorian composers, this tune is often performed with too much rubato and in a sentimental manner too often associated with weddings. Sing it in unison at a cheerful pace. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988


Baptist Hymnal 1991 #512
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #364
  • Four-part harmony, full-score (PDF, NWC)
The Cyber Hymnal #5272
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #580
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
Small Church Music #7366
Text: Szent, örök Isten (Sacred, eternal God)
  • PDF Melody (PDF)
The United Methodist Hymnal #645
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
Worship and Rejoice #610
Text: O Perfect Love


Instances (1 - 44 of 44)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
50 Uncommon Songs: for partakers of the common salvation #21TextPage Scan
African American Heritage Hymnal #520TextPage Scan
Ambassador Hymnal: for Lutheran worship #386
Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #348Text
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #512TextAudioPage Scan
Chalice Hymnal #362
Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #364Tune InfoScoreAudio
Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #600TextPage Scan
Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #533aTextPage Scan
Himnos de la Iglesia #490
Hinário para o Culto Cristão #597
Hymnal: A Worship Book #624
Hymns and Psalms: a Methodist and ecumenical hymn book #370
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #290Text
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #297
Hymns of Faith #542TextPage Scan
Hymns of the Saints: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints #368
Lutheran Worship #253
Moravian Book of Worship #427TextPage Scan
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #533TextPage Scan
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #580Text InfoTune InfoTextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
Secular Hymnal: 144 hymn tunes made inclusive for all #65TextPage Scan
Sheng tu shi ge = Hymnary (聖徒詩歌) #394
Sheng tu shi ge = Hymnary (聖徒詩歌) #695
Sing Joyfully #609TextPage Scan
Singing the Faith #605
Small Church Music #104Audio
Small Church Music #7366Audio
Soul-stirring Songs & Hymns (Rev. ed.) #455
The Celebration Hymnal: songs and hymns for worship #458TextPage Scan
The Cyber Hymnal #5272TextScoreAudio
The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #533TextPage Scan
The Liturgy of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives #52
The New Century Hymnal #58TextPage Scan
The New National Baptist Hymnal #374
The United Methodist Hymnal #645TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #266
The Worshiping Church #388TextFlexscorePage Scan
Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #603
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #722TextFlexscorePage Scan
TTT-Himnaro Cigneta #33TextAudio
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #491Text
Worship and Rejoice #610TextScoreAudioPage Scan
生命聖詩 - Hymns of Life, 1986 #506Text
Include 61 pre-1979 instances
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