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Samuel Marsden

Te Harinui

Samuel Marsden

On Christmas Day this year we celebrate the bicentennial of the first Christian service in Aotearoa New Zealand.

I have written about this here: Samuel Marsden Christmas Day 1814. And quoted from Samuel Marsden’s journal.

I was asked to write a proper preface for the celebration, and have done so here: Marsden Ruatara Proper Preface. This includes a version in Te Reo Maori.

There is a well-known Christmas song, Te Harinui, based on that first service. There is a limited number of regularly-used Southern-Hemisphere Christmas carols (see here, here, and here). The words of the carol, Te Harinui, are mostly well-loved. The tune of Te Harinui is often disliked – particularly by musicians.

I am not aware of any hymn writing, or competition, to celebrate the bicentennial – a surprising omission if I am correct. If there is a new hymn to celebrate, or a competition to produce such a hymn/carol/song do let me know here. I do not think that the song, Te Harinui, would happily be married to a different tune. That, I think, would be like trying to change the tune for Amazing Grace.

It seems to me that one could take the concepts of the 1814 event, in the manner of Te Harinui, and write a new song that either fit with a well-known tune, or produce a new tune as well. You still have time to produce such a work. If you have done so, or if you do produce one, let us know here, and we can promote it. [You can also let us know in the comments if you intend to give this a go].

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9 thoughts on “Te Harinui”

  1. We often sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to the tune’ House of the Rising Sun’, as do the Blind Boys of Alabama. It works and I like the theology of redeeming a tune about a Brothel, it is almost a metaphor by grace. So maybe the tune can be changed?

  2. As A Church Organist I have to say I quite like the tune it is simple and catchy and there are a few different versions to suit each musicians taste. I and many of my friends grew up singing this at school prize givings and think it has become a bit of modern classic. Re the competition idea I would have loved have been involved had we had one set up

    1. Richard, be involved! 🙂 I am not able to be a judge (way beyond my competency), but who knows where this may conclude. We may yet have another hymn/song/carol to celebrate the bicentenary – and you may have written it! Blessings.

  3. There is the rendition of ‘O come Let Us Adore Him’ in the version All the Earth by the Parchute Band. It is an older album now but is a new redition to a familiar tune and was recorded live in Hamilton.

  4. In the New Zealand Navy during the 70s – 90s we used the tune “The House of the Rising Sun” with a number of CM metre hymns such as “The Lord’s my Shepherd”. We also used “The Gypsy Rover” for the same CM hymns in previous decades. Tunes can both date (if you are trying to get ‘unchurched’ people to engage in ‘church’ singing) and sometimes be inappropriate in mood. I would hate to try “Amazing Grace” to the tune “Gypsy Rover”!

  5. Just listened to the above version and it thankfully redeemed it for me from the recorder playing and poorly pronounced tay-har-y-nui of the school choirs of my childhood. Thanks.

    For a contemporary celebration song, I just came across “Beneath the Southern Cross”: https://vimeo.com/114521880 Turn it up loud!

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