Louis Bourgeois – Old 100th Tune Writer

Here is another history lesson on the music wars in the church, of the 1500’s style. This poor man, Louis Bourgeois, gave us the tune to the Old 100th but was essentially run out of town because he dared change the tunes to some familiar Psalms.

Technically though the tune we call the Old 100th was actually written by Bourgeois for Psalm 134. It wasn’t until “All People That on Earth Do Dwell,” taken from Psalm 100, was written by William Kethe that the tune became known as the Old 100th.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Later that same tune was used for the song, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow,” which we often call it “The Doxology”. It was written by Thomas Ken.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

As commonly as we know this tune, writing music tunes wasn’t so easy back in the 1500’s. You actually had to have a license to write a tune!

“Louis Bourgeois is the one most responsible for the tunes in the Genevan Psalter, the source for the hymns of both the Reformed Church in England and the Pilgrims in America. In the original versions by Bourgeois, the music is monophonic, in accordance with the dictates of John Calvin, who disapproved not only of counterpoint but of any multiple parts; Bourgeois though did also provide four-part harmonizations, but they were reserved for singing and playing at home. Many of the four-part settings are syllabic and chordal, a style which has survived in many Protestant church services to the present day.

Of the tunes in the Genevan Psalter, some are reminiscent of secular chansons, others are directly borrowed from the Strasbourg Psalter; The remainder were composed by successively Guillaume Franc, Louis Bourgeois and Pierre Davantès. By far the most famous of Bourgeois’ compositions is the tune known as the Old 100th.Unfortunately, he fell foul of local musical authorities and was sent to prison on December 3, 1551 for changing the tunes for some well-known psalms “without a license.” He was released on the personal intervention of John Calvin, but the controversy continued: those who had already learned the tunes had no desire to learn new versions, and the town council ordered the burning of Bourgeois’s instructions to the singers, claiming they were confusing. Shortly after this incident, Bourgeois left Geneva never to return: … “ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loys_Bourgeois


Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.