Be Glad Then, America

For my last theory class prior to election day, I took the subtle precaution of teaching a hymn whose words (and also harmonies, as I needed a minor-key piece with a homophonic texture, and they’re rare) were appropriate to this particular election week, Be Glad Then, America, by our founding national composer William Billings (1746-1800):

Darkness and clouds of awful shade

Hang pendant by a slender thread,

Waiting commission from God the upholder to fall,

Fall, fall, and distress us.

Great God, avert th’impending doom,

We plead no merit of our own.

For mercy, Lord, we cry.

Bow down thine ear to our complaints,

And hear from heav’n thou king of saints,

O let thine aid be nigh.

Still, I’m optimistic.