|Title:||WONDROUS LOVE (Southern Harmony)|
|Incipit:||11724 54211 72576|
|Key:||d minor or modal|
WONDROUS LOVE was first set to this text in William Walker's (PsH 44) second edition of Southern Harmony (1840). Publication of the hymn in B. F. White's The Sacred Harp (1844) further promoted the combination of text and tune. The meter of "What Wondrous Love" derives from an old English ballad about the infamous pirate Captain Kidd:
My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed, when I sailed;
My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed;
My name was Robert Kidd, God's laws I did forbid,
So wickedly I did when I sailed, when I sailed
So wickedly I did when I sailed.
Described by Erik Routley (PHH 31) as "incomparably beautiful," the tune is in ABA form and in Dorian or Aeolian mode (depending on which version is used or which "authentic" performance is heard). The setting is by Emily R. Brink (PHH 158). The Hymnal 1982 (439) includes the original three-part setting with the melody in the tenor; that setting could be useful for choirs alternating with the congregation on the hymnal setting. Sing unaccompanied, or use light accompaniment for stanzas 1 and 2, gradually becoming more forceful through stanza 3, and use full organ (or piano) for stanza 4.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987
WONDROUS LOVE appeared in Walker's fourth edition of Southern Harmony (1840) where the arrangement was attributed to James Christopher, 1813-1844.