O PERFECT LOVE (Barnby)

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)
Meter: 11.10.11.10
Incipit: 13555 55177 62345
Key: E♭ Major
Copyright: Public Domain

Texts

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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Notes

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

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Baptist Hymnal 1991 #512
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
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Text: O Perfect Love
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
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Text: O Perfect Love
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  • Full Score (PDF)
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Text: O Perfect Love
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
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Text: O Perfect Love

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