What Wondrous Love, one of my favorite old gospel hymns, for voice, piano and guitar.
Download free lead sheets of the famous hymn melody, or a less-well-known pentatonic version, hauntingly beautiful, with free guitar tabs.
What Wondrous Love is apparently an entirely authentic American hymn.
Almost 200 years ago, William Walker wrote it down as he journeyed through the Appalachian Mountains. It appears, along with other hymns and songs he wrote down, in his compilation book The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1835).
I have to admit that these are ALMOST the same chord choices you generally find for this hymn... but perhaps tweaked just a little.
The chords are MY favorites, not necessarily any standard choice (though they're not very different).
Now here is the alternate melody I told you about, below.
The melody is entirely pentatonic, so it doesn't wander around much, and the guitar tabs are super-easy in all of the three keys, so it will be fun for beginners!
But first, listen to Blue Highway singing this bluegrass-style gospel music:
It is a one-chord song; when playing it in the key of Em, for example, you can have the backup instrument just play an Em chord all the way through.
I have provided guitar tabs for several keys, including the key of Fm, which may seem strange, but it makes a very fun tab -- almost like a finger exercise.
If you are interested in a beautiful, easy-to-sing version for 4-part harmony, go to What Wondrous Love, the ensemble version.
"The Southern Harmony," says Wikipedia (!) "is a shape note hymn and tune book compiled by William Walker. It is part of the larger tradition of shape note singing."
Like many other old gospel hymns, the hymn lyrics focus on the soul's separation from God because of sin.
Though humankind deserved God's "righteous frown," yet because of His great love for those He made, those who were like lost lambs, God took the curse of sin upon Himself.
By becoming man -- the God-man -- and dying for sin like a sacrificed Lamb Himself, He freed those He loves (all of us, says the Bible). It is the story of a Great Rescue.
The above video features the easy-to-sing version for 4-part harmony I wrote for my students. If you are interested in buying this arrangement (a great deal! $5.00 for unlimited copies) go to What Wondrous Love, the ensemble version.
... I watched your video "Wondrous Love" with your eight gals - Magnificent! So refreshing to see good harmonies sung a capella these days; it seems to be rare!
I just wanted to tell you that I have found your website EXTREMELY helpful! I have a young group of children that I have started a youth choir with and I was searching for music ideas and I came across your website. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? I'd love to hear it!
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Pentatonic Alternate Tune for What Wondrous Love -- More Verses?
I love this tune! I'm so glad I found out about it. I'm wondering if there is a name for the tune by which it is distinguished from the traditional (Walker) …