In this article we look at the classic Christian hymn “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended” (St Clement) which was written in the 19th century by John Ellerton and then subsequently revised/arranged by both Clement Scholefield and James O’Donnell.
A classic hymn most likely made known to a wider audience when it was a chosen hymn at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on Monday 19th September 2022.
Here we provide three simple versions of the hymn which can be easily played on a piano or keyboard. The first is simply the melody; the second adds a basic single finger bass line; the third adds chords and a fuller octave-based bass line.
The hymn is written in G major with a time signature of 3/4, and here has a tempo of 82bpm, which is quite slow and stately. It can be played somewhat more quickly if so desired.
Here is the hymn simply written as melody and words to the five verses. Suggested fingering has been given, 1 being the thumb and running consecutively to 5 being the little finger.
Note the suggested pause in bar 9 over the F#, which is discretionary.
Here we add a very simple bass line requiring only a single note to be played at a time. Most notes are a dotted-half note (minim) meaning they take up an entire measure/bar length. Some measures have a half note followed by a quarter note (bars 4, 12, 15 and 16) as well as the quarter note in bar 1.
Presuming that you have a good grasp on the melody line, the tempo of the music should be sufficient to easily find the next bass note to play.
The final version includes mainly three-note chords in the right hand part with octave intervals in the left hand part.
Note that in bars 6 and 14 the left and right hand both ‘share’ the G beneath middle C. You can omit attempting to play the note from either hand in this case.
Watch for the accidental C# in the bar 8 chord — it’s an A major chord in first inversion.
It’s possible to use this version of the music if you want to accompany singers without playing the melody note. In this case, simply ignore the highest note in the right hand part. Alternatively, play each three-note chord held for as long as the lower two notes, omitting any other right hand melody notes.
As this piece of music is fairly slow, and there are quite few chord changes, make use of the damper (sustain) pedal to help prolong the notes and make the transition between notes smoother. Typically, the technique for doing this is to hold the pedal down and then raise and lower it quickly immediately after the next chord is played. You will improve the technique and reduce any ‘muddy’ note clashes as you practice.
This technique will not work so well when you are playing the melody. In this case, ensure you are playing legato. If you are playing chords and melody, ensure you hold the lower two notes down for their duration while playing the changing upper melody line. This can feel awkward to begin with so ensure you are using good fingering which does not stretch you too much or cause the lower notes to be lifted.