Mendelssohn's Impact on the Spreading of the Church Hymn "O Word of God Incarnate" in American and Korean Hymnals and Its Connection to an Old German Hymnal

Sa Ra Park, Texas State University

Among the many well-known melodies in American and Korean hymnals is a melody (tune name: MUNICH) known from the oratorio Elias by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847). In this music piece, the melody is set to the lyrics Cast thy burden upon the Lord. American hymnals published in the 1930s contain this melody set to another text, O Word of God Incarnate by William Walsham How (1823-1897). How's text with the melody by Mendelssohn is also found in the Korean hymnal. It is interesting to observe that the melody is not Mendelssohn's own composition, but it is a melody of a German church hymn. Its composer is unknown, but its source is related to the German hymnal Neuvermehrtes Meiningisches Gesangbuch of 1693. For the spreading of this church hymn -- not the text, but the melody -- Mendelssohn und his successful oratorio Elias played a significant role.

Mendelssohn's impact on the American and Korean hymnals related to this church hymn has not yet been explored. Thus, this original study aims to present not only the origin of the melody, but also its reception in Mendelssohn's oratorio, and the versions in the American and Korean hymnals. For this research, American and Korean hymnals that were published at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century will be observed. Furthermore, the origin of the melody will be explored beyond Johannes Zahn's research (in Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1963).