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Welcome to the official website of pianist and composer Deanna Witkowski.

Deanna cover photo for Raindrop (no text)

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Hymn tune history: CWM RHONDDA (with co-blogger Pam McAllister)

Here’s the second installment in my hymn history co-blog with author and activist, Pam McAllister.  Pam and I are exploring the background of each of the hymns on my new recording, Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns.

Capel (Chapel) Rhondda, the church where CWM RHONDDA was first sung.

This week we’re looking at the album’s opening track- and the second of two Welsh tunes on the recording- CWM RHONDDA, the tune used for the text, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” This tune is also familiar to many as the setting for the inspiring Social Gospel hymn with “God of Grace and God of Glory,” text by Harry Emerson Fosdick. Pam blogged about that Social Gospel hymn HERE in 2016.

PAM ON THE HYMN TEXT

The redundantly named William Williams (1717-1781) understood his life to be a journey, not unlike the one taken by the ancient Israelites wandering through a barren wilderness. Walking over ninety-five thousand miles, all of Wales became his parish.

Williams had intended to study medicine until he heard a fiery sermon by the twenty-something sensation Howell Harris. Inspired, Williams became a preacher too, although he wanted nothing of lifeless indoor religion; instead, he chose the open road, preaching in the rain, snow, and sun. Continue reading

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