Choral Stream

Listen as Cantus sings rare, early-American hymns

Cantus performs early-American hymns at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minn.MPR

May 24, 2021

Listen as Cantus performs three rare, early-American hymns during a recent recording session with YourClassical MPR at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown St. Paul.

These church songs, which were published before 1861 and then largely forgotten, borrowed melodies from European composers who were popular at the time. The hymns are among a few hundred being revived and archived thanks to the work of University of Minnesota professor Peter Mercer-Taylor and his American Classical Hymns project.

Vocal ensembles such as Cantus are helping to bring these once-neglected hymns back to public awareness.

"We were really excited to be approached by YourClassical MPR and Peter Mercer-Taylor to be a part of the American Classical Hymns project. At Cantus, we love it when we have the opportunity to perform lesser-known pieces and bring them back in front of audiences, so getting to record these beautiful hymns was a perfect project for us," says tenor Paul Scholtz.

Enjoy these special historic hymns. 

‘Sweetzer’

"Sweetzer" is a plaintive 1849 church song based on a Mendelssohn tune that asks, "Is there no balm to heal my wound?"

Hymn: Thomas Hastings and William Bradbury
Music: Felix Mendelssohn
Download the sheet music

‘Beulah’

"Beulah" is a beautiful 1850 church song based on a Schubert tune that ends with the line, "Bless our offerings, hear our prayers, Infinite and Holy One!""

Hymn: Benjamin Franklin Baker and Lucien H. Southard
Music: Franz Schubert
Download the sheet music

‘As Every Day, Thy Mercy Spares (No. 38)’

"As Every Day, Thy Mercy Spares (No. 38)," a beautiful 1844 church song based on a Mozart tune that implores, "O Father till my life shall end, be thou my counselor and friend."

Hymn: Elam Ives, Jr., William Alpers and Henry C. Timm
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Download the sheet music

Credits

Performers: Cantus
Alex Nishibun, tenor
Paul Scholtz, tenor
Alberto de la Paz, tenor
Jacob Christopher, tenor
Jeremy Wong, baritone
Rod Kelly Hines, baritone
Samuel Green, bass
Chris Foss, bass

Music: American Classical Hymns project

Venue: Filmed May 10, 2021, at Central Presbyterian Church, St. Paul, Minn.

Executive producer: Randy Salas

Thanks to Prof. Peter Mercer-Taylor, University of Minnesota, and Jennifer Anderson and Anna Sanchez, Central Presbyterian