Praise Whistlers Abroad

"Before the Throne of God Above"
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Author:  Miniac [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:01 am ]
Post subject:  "Before the Throne of God Above"

**NOTE** I stayed up way too late :sleepy: putting this post together, so if said anything too stupid or incoherent please cut me a little slack. Morning is gonna come WAY too soon! :coffee: -ks

"Before the Throne of God Above" is, without doubt, my favorite hymn ever, and I think that the story behind that is worth sharing.

I've been singing on the worship team at my church for ages. I hate to admit it, but it's easy to get to the point that you're just singing, and lose sight of the fact that leading worship means personally participating in the worship as well. On top of that, when you have the good fortune of singing with the same group for a long time it can get a little too easy, . . . the harmonies start to come right away, you start to anticipate things, and it begins to be more like a performance than true worship. So, one night our leader showed up with this new-old hymn called "Before the Throne of God Above." The tune was beautiful, but not too complicated, and we were able to fit delightful, crisp harmonies to it right off. So we checked it off the list and went on to practice the rest of the set. Then, as was our custom, we reviewed the complete set right before we finished up for the evening. When we got to "Before the Throne of God Above" the intro was perfect, the tempo was exact, the dynamics were dead on. Our voices started out in perfect sync and the harmonies were flawless, . . . . then something went wrong, . . . the harmonies started slipping, the tempo began staggering, and by the third verse voices and instruments just started to drop out. We didn't make it to the end. Somehow, while sharing that hymn with each other that evening, we all got a little glimpse of God. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. The typical good natured scolding from our leader didn't come. We just stood there in that big old sanctuary weeping and sniffling. After what had to be at least a couple of minutes, our leader just quietly said, "We're done for tonight. Lets just get here a little early on Sunday to firm things up." And we all silently walked out. It was kinda beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

So, I did the search thing and found a year old post by Shan (a person of excellent taste, from what I can tell) touting the wonderful old hymn, but unfortunately there was no music, at least none I could find. Well, I figure I need to fix that so here it is in ABC format. Just use the Tune-o-tron at and you can make a nice PDF out of it. I hope y'all like it. Maybe when I've been playing the whistle longer than a month I'll actually be able to play it all the way through without my fingers developing a mind of their own and doing the "happy dance" all over the holes on my little Feadog.

T:Before the Throne of God Above (The Advocate)
C:Charitie Lees (Smith) Bancroft
Z:Miniac for PWA 07-22-2007
DGA|:B2 G2 EG|G3 DGA|B2 G2 Bd|d3 GBd|
e2 d2 AB|G3 EGB|AG E2 G2|G3 ggf|
e2 d2 Bd|d3 ggf|e2 d2 ef|g3 agf|
e2 d2 AB|G3 EGB|AG E2 G2|G3 EGB|
AG E2 G2|[1,2 G3 DGA:|[3 G6|]

Before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great High Priest whose name is love Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands, my name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands no tongue can bid me thence depart.
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died my sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb, my perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM, the King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die. My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high, with Christ my Saviour and my God!
With Christ my Saviour and my God!

Author:  Judy K [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Before the Throne of God Above"

I'm not familiar with the hymn, Kevin. Love the words, the tune is interesting, too. What is the tempo your choir uses? I looked this up on The Cyber Hymnal. Looks like several tunes can be used, including the tune for Sweet Hour of Prayer (which the CH listed as the norm).

I am very impressed with your ABC notation after a month of playing whistle?? WOW! :thumbsup:

Author:  KittyR [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Before the Throne of God Above"

Great new-old hymn, loved it the moment I heard it.

It was kinda beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

That pretty much sums up life with Christ. :)

Author:  TC [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Before the Throne of God Above"

Hi Kevin - Thanks for sharing this song. I enjoyed the story about your experience with the worship team.
I would also love to hear others' stories similar to this if anyone has them ?
Our group often has a similar experience during practice and I've often said that I need to record some of these sessions and not the services themselves. I think the contributing factors are relaxation because there's no pressure, a wide open room creating a wonderful sonic space, and a more intimate feeling of closeness to God as if he is our only audience at the time. Sometimes this makes for perfect music in rehearsal then when it's time for mass....... Well, let's just say it comes out differently than we practiced.

Author:  Miniac [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Before the Throne of God Above"


Oh dear, . . . questions. This is probably going to push me beyond the bounaries of my "musical comfort zone," but here goes. If I remember all that Italian stuff they made me learn about 40 years ago, Andante indicates a walking pace. (OK, I cheated, . . . that's one of the 3 or 4 tempos that our worship leader regularly referred to, so I'm not really remembering back 40 years. ;) ) I'd say we did it at a very leisurely Andante, . . . maybe just a hair slower than true Andante, but a tad faster than the second hand on my desk clock.

The way we did it was kind of cool. We'd start the first verse in unison, with a bit of a solemn "old hymn" feel, (Before the throne of God above, . . .) and then subtly slide into the harmonies (. . . I have a strong and perfect plea, . . .) then we'd gently build it with voices and instruments. (. . . a great high priest whose name is love, who ever lives and pleads for me, . . .) Then we "got big" (My name is graven on his hands, my name is written on his heart, . . .) but not like "host of heaven" big; more like "hundred voice chior on the next mountain top" big, if that makes any sense. Not booming, just full. We peaked at the "I" (. . . I know that while in heaven He stands, . . .) and it was like we suddenly started to slowly fold our hands and bow our heads to pray. We ended the verse with the same solemn feel we started with. Very moving. We got a very positive response from the the congregation on this one. Good stuff.

I sorta have an unfair advantage when it comes to the ABC format, . . . I'm an engineer nerd, and so I like nice orderly things that follow a set of rules. (It's a form of mental illness.) When I first looked at ABC, it was just a bunch of letters and symbols, but once I started to understand the logic, it became a fun challenge. (Thank heaven for the Tune-O-Tron! It lets me check my work. Plus, I'm starting to feel a yen for a squeezebox of my own. Uh oh.) Of course, that same mindset makes it hard for me to really grasp the concepts of ornamentation and style when I'm playing my whistle. I can do the mechanics of ornamentation, and mimic a style that I hear in a recording, (albeit very slowly and with plenty of chirps and squawks at this point) but I don't often sense the "musical motivation" that prompts those things. There also seems to be a very "interpretive" element to whistling that I'm struggling to develop a feel for. As I play the same tune over and over (and over, and over, and over, . . . ask my poor wife!) I'm starting to introduce my own subtle little "style elements" that give the tune my "flavor" but it's a long process. I tend to think about it too much rather than just playing and listening. Gotta keep telling myself that whistling is a journey, not a destination.


Author:  Jorg [ Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Before the Throne of God Above"

That is a great hym , Kevin. I first heard it in the church I'm now attending and love it every time it's played.

I got asked (last minute) to accompany the music director on this hymn for offertory. They(md and pastor) were a little disorganized and hadn't planned anything (I was doing sound that day) He was going to sing solo and play guitar. They thought the whistle might add something.

I had a whistle in my car, and had just taught myself that song. So at offertory, I ran out of the sound booth, played the song and ran back to the booth

We did it, and, weirdly, it got applause--which typically doesn't happen in our church.

All that to say, it's definitely a melody suited for the whistle.

The lyrics are powerful and poignant.

Author:  Miniac [ Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Before the Throne of God Above"

Jorg - That is so cool. When I posted it I hoped it might be useful (perhaps even be a blessing) to someone. Thanks for sharing your Sunday experience, . . . I agree that it's a great whistle tune.


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