VESPER HYMN (Bortnianski or Stevenson)

Arranger: John A. Stevenson

(no biographical information available about John A. Stevenson.) Go to person page >

Composer: Dimitri S. Bortnianski

Dimitri Stepanovitch Bortniansky (1751-1825) was born in Glukhov, Ukraine, and when just eight years old was admitted to the imperial choir school where he is thought to have studied with Galuppi. He later studied in Italy for a ten-year period. While there, he wrote his first operas. In 1779, Bortniansky returned to Russia, where he was appointed Kapellmeister to the imperial court. Paul I appointed him music director in 1796. His compositions have influenced later Russian composers, particularly Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Bortniansky composed seven operas as well as other vocal and instrumental music. In 1881, Peter Tchaikovsky edited Bortniansky’s sacred work amassing ten volumes. Bortniansky died in St. Petersburg. --Pre… Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: Dimitri S. Bortnianski (1818)
Arranger: John A. Stevenson
Meter: D
Incipit: 35453 52535 42171
Key: E♭ Major
Copyright: Public Domain


VESPER HYMN appeared in John A. Stevenson's Selection of Popular National Airs (1818) as a setting for Thomas Moore's "Hark! The Vesper Hymn Is Stealing." A footnote in that hymnal explained that Stevenson had added what is-now the first line of the retrain to a "Russian Air." Some later hymnals attributed the tune to Dimitri Bortniansky, but no tune resembling this one has been found in that Russian composer's published works. Stevenson is generally recognized as being the arranger if not also the composer. As a youth, Stevenson (b. Dublin, Ireland, 1761; d. Kells, Ireland, 1833) was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. He later worked as a church musician in both cathedrals: at St. Patrick's from 1783 to 1800 and at Christ Church from 1800 to 1814. In 1814 he became organist and musical director at the Castle Chapel. Stevenson published Morning and Evening Services and Anthems (1825) and an oratorio, Thanksgiving (1831). But he is better known for his operas and songs for the stage and his collection of Irish Melodies (1807-1809) to lyrics by Thomas Moore. This bar form (AAB) tune reaches an early climax in its refrain. Preferably sing with children, but begin and end with the refrain as a frame sung by the entire congregation. For choral singing at a special service, try having the sopranos sing the final line of the refrain up an octave. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988


Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #614
  • Four-part harmony, full-score (PDF, NWC)
The Cyber Hymnal #2666
Text: Hark! The Vesper Hymn Is Stealing
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
The Cyber Hymnal #4637
Text: Now, on Land and Sea Descending
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
The Cyber Hymnal #6829
Text: Take Me, O My Father, Take Me
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #484
Text: Humble Praises, Holy Jesus
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
Small Church Music #7220
Text: O! tahio ny havanay re (O! Bless our family)
  • PDF Score (PDF)
The United Methodist Hymnal #685
Text: Now, on Land and Sea Descending
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)


Instances (1 - 21 of 21)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #614ScoreAudio
Hymnal: A Worship Book #655
Hymns of the Saints: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints #501
Moravian Book of Worship #627
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #545TextPage Scan
Protestant Madagascar Hymnal, 2001 #730
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #484Text InfoTune InfoScoreAudio
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #58Text InfoTune InfoText
Small Church Music #2604Audio
Small Church Music #5727Audio
Small Church Music #7220Audio
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #710
The Cyber Hymnal #2666TextScoreAudio
The Cyber Hymnal #4637TextScoreAudio
The Cyber Hymnal #6829TextScoreAudio
The United Methodist Hymnal #685TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement II #188Text
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #491TextPage Scan
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #432TextPage Scan
نظم المرامير #311Page Scan
찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship: the Korean-English Presbyterian hymnal and service book #372
Include 55 pre-1979 instances
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