The Lancaster Street chancel in the late 19th century
The list of St. Paul’s services for Easter 1883 includes the Children’s Service at 3:30, with a list of hymns they sang. But our archives also includes a copy of the children’s song sheets.
Perhaps the most interesting hymn is “The Story of the Resurrection,” to verses by Claudia Frances Ibotsen Hernaman (1838-1898), prolific author of hymns, particularly for children. She is represented in the current Episcopal hymnal by the Lenten hymn “Lord, who throughout these forty days”.
You’ll notice that the text is divided into four sections –The Question, The Answer, The Story and Our Cry to Jesus. One English edition (M. Woodward, The Children’s Service Book as Used in the Parish Church of Folkestone. Folkestone: Vaughan & Russell, 1881.) assigns Section I to Two Choristers, Section II to Choir, Section III to Children and Section IV to All, suggesting a ataged performance.
The earliest edition for which I can find a melody is from the same year (Charles Lewis Hutchins ed., The Sunday-School Hymnal and Service-Book: Medford, Mass: by the editor, 1881.) It is possible that this was the edition used at St. Paul’s, because it contains versions of five of the six hymns on the song sheet. While the composer is not named, we know that he was English organist and composer Alfred Edward Redhead (1855 — 1937), because he is credited in a later version.
Redhead adds interest and drama to the hymn by using three different melodies. The Question and The Call use related melodies in the same key, both marked “Not fast”; The Story changes the key, and increases the tempo “A little faster”; Our Cry to Jesus returns to the key, melody and tempo as at the beginning.
In Redhead’s later version entitled “Resurrection Song” (F. N. Peloubet and Hubert P. Main eds., Select Songs No. 2: for the Singing Service in the Prayer Meeting; Sunday school; Christian Endeavor Meetings. New York: Biglow & Main Co., 1893.), he uses a different device to add drama, including Sections I and II only, but alternating quatrains from Question and Answer, and suggesting performance “By two Classes, or the School in two Divisions.