“The Skye Boat Song” is a traditional Scottish air, often sung as a lullaby or waltz. The lyrics tell of the journey of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” (Charles Edward Stuart) from Benbecula to the Aisle of Skye, as he evaded capture by government troops after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. To this day, “over the sea to Skye” is a popular line used in tourism.
This traditional melody is often played by pipers (bagpipers, that is), pipe bands, whistlers, and harpers of many musical skill levels. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote alternate lyrics around 1885, as he didn’t think the journey of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” fit this calming melody. I tend to agree, but since I’m not singing here, I hope you enjoy this lovely melody played on lyre!
“Wiegenlied” (Lullaby or Cradle Song) was written by Johannes Brahms and first published in 1868. You probably know the melody, but stay tuned!
This arrangement is an experiment, in which I play the lyre and zither at the same time, in real-time. My left hand plays the bass notes, or accompaniment, on lyre, and my right hand plays the melody on zither.
Why 2 instruments?
Because I’m proving that if and when I’m able to acquire a double strung harp, I will indeed be able to play it!
A double strung harp has 2 parallel rows of strings that are typically (but not always) tuned the same. Having 2 rows of strings gives each hand more options for accompaniment. The hands don’t run into each other in more wide-spread arrangements, because each hand has its own separate row of strings.
Double strung harps also open up a world of effects that cannot be played on a single strung (regular) harp, lyre, or zither. You can double the melody, or, as I do here, play melody and accompaniment in the same octave. This is much easier heard than explained!
In this arrangement, I first play a standard accompaniment on lyre. I.e. the left hand plays bass notes below the right hand.
The second time through, I play the lyre accompaniment up an octave, with my right hand on zither, playing the melody in the same octave. Essentially this means the melody and accompaniment overlap and sometimes play the same notes at the same time. You can understand why this cannot be done on only one set of strings.
Finally, you’ll hear the zither arrangement with bass and melody.
If you’ve read this far, I thank you! If your head is spinning, I apologize and simply ask that you listen to the music and hear just a little of what can be done on a double strung instrument. It’s fascinating!
In 1873 beloved American hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, dictated the lyrics of “Blessed Assurance.” Phoebe Knapp composed the music that brings “Aunt Fanny’s” comforting words into hymnals, homes, and hearts to this day.
I hope you enjoy hearing “Blessed Assurance” played on lyre!
Charles H. Gabriel wrote this hymn in 1890. The melody is a tune he entitled “Mccabe.” With its march tempo and evangelical lyrics, “Send the Light” is one of the most popular missionary hymns of all time.
Personally, I marched down the church aisle as a child, singing what lyrics I knew with the rest of the congregation, during the Alabaster Offering. Alabaster is an offering specifically designated for building mission churches around the world and is participated in by many traditional Christian denominations. I don’t mind admitting that as a 3-5-year-old, it was more of a play break from the usual order of service. 🙂
As time passed, I, too, had an Alabaster Box containing whatever change I had to contribute. I put my little box inside the one shaped like a church building and marched back down the aisle to one of the 2 back pews that my parents, grandparents, siblings and I filled to capacity.
Besides the marching, the most memorable part were our pastor and a young man who played trumpets, and the 2 ladies who played piano and organ. Needless to say, the semiannual Alabaster Offering became a treat of sorts, that I still remember many years later.
I’ve come to realize that “Send the Light” is not all about money. It’s about sharing whatever you do, whatever you have (your time, talent, and treasure), and above all, whatever you are. It’s not for their conversion to your belief system, but for the love of other people. We are all God’s creations, whether we want to admit it or not. Because God loves each and every one of us equally, the same Presence within us can help us love ourselves and others as much, if we invoke the Spirit of Healing and Love to work through us.
I hope you enjoy hearing this hymn on lyre! More importantly, I pray you send your own light to those you know, those you love, and those you haven’t met yet! We are all eternally connected in the Light of God, and that will never change!
I turn away from the world that surrounds me for a few moments. I leave the worn outer world and mind behind me.
Planted habits and thought patterns fall away as I traverse the stepping stones leading deep within myself.
Here, I open the doors of my ordinary mind to the Higher, Greater Truth that I Am.
Light permeates my mind, and I realize I Am One with Love, Wisdom, Creativity, Power, and Healing. Whatever I need is already here within me. I can access my Divine Attributes at any moment, simply by looking higher and deeper to the Spirit within the center of my own mind. This is my True Self.
For this realization I give thanks! I return to my daily activities renewed, refreshed, relaxed, and ready to accomplish the Divine Plan for me this day.
“Upon the Willows” was the first piece that Brook Boddie
composed for harp. He wrote it in memory of his mother. Here I’ve arranged it for lyre (or small harp) in the key of C, in memory of Brook. I hope you enjoy this arrangement of his beautiful musical tribute!
Here is a video of Brook Boddie playing “Upon the Willows” on a floor harp.
Here is a hymn that to me is also a bluegrass classic. I have heard numerous bluegrass versions, both live and on recordings, and played some myself as solos and with other musicians. In fact, the first time I remember hearing it, I was very young and attending Vacation Bible School. A husband and wife were in charge of children’s music, and we sang this with great gusto, while he played guitar and she played mandolin. Ever since then, this hymn has always brought a smile to my face and comfort to my heart. It’s fun and relatively easy to play, and while it could also be played slowly, it has a hopeful spirit.
“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” dates back to 1887. The melody, and lyrics to the refrain, were written by Anthony J. Showalter. Elisha Hoffman wrote the remaining lyrics.
My favorite verse is:
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have bless-ed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
I hope you enjoy listening to this lyre arrangement as much as I enjoy playing it!
I wrote this song in memory of Brook Boddie, a wonderful harpist, composer, and arranger. I didn’t know he began playing harp in his 30’s, or that he also played piano and organ in his church. There are many things I wasn’t able to experience about this humble man, including meeting him in person. However, I recognize his loving spirit and giving, selfless, gentle soul through his music and the encouragement he shared throughout the harp community. Brook passed away on July 15, 2020, and will be forever loved. I pray his soul continues to be eternally blessed, and that God grants peace to all those Brook touched who are grieving right now.
Here is another piece, composed and played by harpist Anne Crosby Gaudet, in memory of Brook. It is called “The Sparrow.” You can find more information about both Brook’s and Anne’s music in her Youtube description links.
Light of Heaven – Lyrics
1. You brought the Light
Of Heaven to earth
Because you gave all the glory
To the Lord who gave you birth.
God blessed your soul,
And your life story told
So everyone knew
You love Him, too.
2. Heard in your music
Is profound peace and love,
Lifting the world up
To see His Kingdom come.
Humbly you showed
We are really not alone,
And everyone knew
You love Him, too.
3. Though I never met you,
I can feel in your song
All the roads you traveled
As God lead you along.
You journey still
With your soul in His Will,
Eternal and true.
You love Him, Too.
You’re going on
With your Heavenly song
And Spirit renewed.
You love Him, too.
You love Him, too.
In the United States, This popular hymn is commonly sung to the tune called “Nettleton.” Though often attributed to John Wyeth or Asahel Nettleton, its true author is unknown. Wyeth was a printer, and though Nettleton was an evangelist, it is not clear whether he composed this melody.
The lyrics were written by Robert Robinson in 1758. They were published along with the “Nettleton” melody in 1813, in “Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second.”
This is a beautiful hymn, and I hope you enjoy my lyre arrangement!