The other day I woke up with a song in my head I hadn’t heard in a long time, the hymn Beneath the Cross of Jesus. The name of the tune is St. Christopher.
When I thought about the tune, I realized it has some fairly sophisticated harmony. My memory of the hymns I grew up with was that they were harmonically simple, mostly built around three chords: I, IV, V. But this hymn has a lot going on.
I imagine a lot of things that I remember as being simple weren’t. I was simple, and my world was richer than I realized.
You can find the sheet music for the hymn here. I’ll write out the chord progressions for the first two lines.
I idim | I | V7 ii7 V7 | I III | vi iidim | vi VI7 ii vi | II VIII7♭5 | III |
If you’re not familiar with music theory, just appreciate that there are a lot more symbols up there than I, IV, and V.
The second line effectively modulates into a new key, the relative minor of the original key, and I’m not sure how to describe what’s going on at the end of the second line.