In 2010, members of the Presbyterian Church of Barrington, IL, commissioned me to write a hymn for the church’s 50th anniversary. I relished this opportunity, both as a chance to give back to a place that was very special to me, and also just because I really wanted to write a hymn.
Writing a hymn is a tricky little thing – you’ve got to come up with something that is singable by a large body of untrained singers but that isn’t so bland you can’t remember it. The music has to relate to the text of the several verses but still encapsulate the overall theme. Plus, there’s an enormous body of literature that you’re competing with and being inspired by.
There’s also a huge body of repertoire, namely hymns written since 1960, to actively despise because of its saccharine popiness. I tried to write a hymn that had something of the grandeur of 19th century English hymnery, Southern Baptist languor and maybe even a touch of popiness (anybody who’s heard my music before knows I just can’t help myself in that regard.)
The text was written by the pastor of the church, the Rev. Dr. Curtis Baxter.