O PERFECT LOVE (Barnby)

Composer: Joseph Barnby

Joseph Barnby (b. York, England, 1838; d. London, England, 1896) An accomplished and popular choral director in England, Barby showed his musical genius early: he was an organist and choirmaster at the age of twelve. He became organist at St. Andrews, Wells Street, London, where he developed an outstanding choral program (at times nicknamed "the Sunday Opera"). Barnby introduced annual performances of J. S. Bach's St. John Passion in St. Anne's, Soho, and directed the first performance in an English church of the St. Matthew Passion. He was also active in regional music festivals, conducted the Royal Choral Society, and composed and edited music (mainly for Novello and Company). In 1892 he was knighted by Queen Victoria. His compositions in… Go to person page >

Tune Information

Title: O PERFECT LOVE (Barnby)
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
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
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Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #364
  • Four-part harmony, full-score (PDF, NWC)
The Cyber Hymnal #5272
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #580
Text: O Perfect Love
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (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

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Include 75 pre-1979 instances
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