Brethren Archive

Tune: St. Petersburg

by D. S. Bortniansky (1752-1825)


Nick Fleet said ...

This is such a great tune, otherwise known as KOL' SLAVEN.  Hear it sung beautifully here:


In the UK there are three adaptions or arrangements of it extant, 1) PENIEL (7.7.7.D.) #150 in Melodies and Chants, 2) WELLS ( #265 Little Flock Tune Book (1954) [#280 in the green 1979 edition], and 3) ST PETERSBURG (8.8.8.D.).  Unfortunately, none of these really does the original justice and, in my view, ST PETERSBURG is the least effective as the ending is a complete let-down and sounds as if it is being played on an old wind-up record player which has run out of steam (OK, that's a mixed metaphor but you know what I mean)

Those of us in the UK who have been brought up singing WELLS (say, to "Sing aloud to God our strength") just can't get our heads around that last line and it invarably goes pear-shaped.  You can hear that tendency also in the USA in both recordings of it above - #473 is quite good, though.

The German brethren have a good version of it here: (click the green button to play it) but even they have had to tweak it in this version

It's a problem of finding a hymn with the right meter.  For example, in German, 'liebe' at the end of a line lends itself to the tune better than 'love'.

It could be remedied, perhaps by adding "A-men" to the last line of each verse in #473 ?  I'd ideally like to use the original KOL' SLAVEN to a hymn in English but, to date, haven't found an ideal match.

Sunday, Jan 8, 2023 : 22:50

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