540. In Christ There Is No East or West

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Text Information
First Line: In Christ there is no east or west
Title: In Christ There Is No East or West
Author: Michael A. Perry (1982)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: CM
Scripture: Isaiah 49:12; Luke 13:29; Acts 17:26; Colossians 3:11; Colossians 3; Acts 17
Topic: Election; Church and Mission
Source: John Oxenham, 1905, after a line by
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1982, Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Used by permission
Tune Information
Name: MC KEE
Harmonizer: Harry T. Burleigh (1939)
Meter: CM
Key: C Major
Source: Afro-American spiritual


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Isa. 49:12, Luke 13:29, Acts 17:26, Col. 3:11, Gal. 3:28
st. 2 = 2 Cor. 5:18-19

Many hymnals contain William A. Dunkerley's "In Christ There Is No East or West," a hymn text written in 1908 by Dunkerley under the pseudonym of John Oxenham. However, it is ironic that this text about the worldwide church has been considered by many in the twentieth century to have an exclusively male emphasis. Consequently, various recent hymnal editors have altered the text. Michael A. Perry (PHH 299) concluded that the revision needed to be so radical that an entirely new text would be a better choice. Thus Perry kept only Dunkerley's opening line and wrote a new text on the same theme. Perry's text was published in Hymns for Today's Church in 1982.

Based on New Testament passages such as Galatians 3:28 and 1 John 4:7-12, this text describes certain ideal characteristics of the church: its comprehensiveness (st. 1), unity (st. 2, 5), love (st. 3), and holiness (st. 4), ideals for which we must continually work and pray. Perry says of his text, "The spirit of reconciliation was invoked from the Pauline Epistles, and the spirit of fellowship from the Johanine."

Liturgical Use:
For Worldwide Communion, All Nations Sunday, All Saints Day, and other church festivals such as Pentecost; splendid for ecumenical services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

MC KEE has an interesting history. According to a letter from Charles V. Stanford (PHH 512) to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (who arranged the tune for piano in his Twenty-Four Negro Melodies, 1905), MC KEE was originally an Irish tune taken to the United States and adapted by African American slaves. It became associated with the spiritual "I Know the Angels Done Changed My Name," which appeared in J. B. T. Marsh's The Story of the Jubilee Singers with their Songs (1876).

Harry T. Burleigh (b. Erie, PA, 1866; d. Stamford, CT, 1949) arranged the tune to fit Dunkerley's text in 1939. As a setting for that text, the tune was published in The Hymnal 1940. Burleigh named the tune after Elmer M. Mc Kee, rector of St. George's Episcopal Church, New York, where Burleigh was the baritone soloist from 1894-1946.

Burleigh began his musical career as a choirboy in St. Paul's Cathedral, Erie, Pennsylvania. He also studied at the National Conservatory of Music, New York City, where he was befriended by Anton Dvorak and, according to tradition, provided Dvorak with some African American musical themes that became part of Dvorak's New World Symphony. Burleigh composed at least two hundred works but is most remembered for his vocal solo arrangements of African American spirituals. In 1944 Burleigh Was honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.

Sing stanzas 1, 2, and 5 in unison, the others in harmony. The instruction in The Hymnal 1940 for this tune is still helpful: sing this hymn "with dignity."

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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