|Title:||WIE LIEBLICH IST DER MAIEN|
|Composer:||Johann Steuerlein (1575)|
|Incipit:||51232 17666 51171|
|Key:||D Major/G Major|
|Source:||Himmlische Harpffe Davids|
This tune was originally a love song composed in 1575 by Johann Steurlein (b. Schmalkalden, Thuringia, Germany, 1546; d. Meiningen, Germany, 1613) as a setting of "Mit Lieb bin ich umfangen." Steurlein studied law at the University of Wittenberg. From 1569 to 1589 he lived in Wasungen near Meiningen, where he served as town clerk as well as cantor and organist in the Lutheran church. From 1589 until his death he lived in Meiningen, where at various times he served as notary public, mayor, and secretary to the Elector of Saxony. A gifted poet and musician, Steurlein rhymed both the Old and New Testaments in German. A number of his hymn tunes and harmonizations were published in Geistliche Lieder (1575) and Sieben und Zwantzig Neue Geistliche Gesenge (l588).
His tune WIE LIEBLICH IST DER MAIEN gets its name from its original use as a setting for Martin Behm's hymn text that began with those words in 1581; text and tune were published together in Gregor Gunderreitter's David's Himlische Harpffen. The Steurlein tune was later set to Monsell's text in W. Garrett Horder's Worship Song in 1905 and popularized through the 1954 anthem by Healey Willan (PHH 258). The harmonization is by Willan, simplified from his anthem.
The tune is a rounded bar form (AABA) whose melodic variation in the fourth line sometimes confuses congregations. Use bright organ tone on that line to support the tune, but use a lighter touch on other lines. The tune can be sung in harmony by agile voices, but congregations may prefer to sing in unison.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988