Go Higher and Wonder: “What Wondrous Love Is This”
This hymn, “What Wondrous Love Is This” or “Wondrous Love” does not have a credited author nor composer. Its lack of author does not mar its longevity and message. A Christian folk hymn from the American South, its words were first published in a camp meeting songbook called A General Selection of the Newest and Most Admired Hymns and Spiritual Songs Now in Use. The songbook was published in Lynchburg, Virginia dated 1811. Aside from the songbook, it may also been published in the book Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Original and Selected of Lexington, Kentucky. The tune is modeled after an English ballad called "The Ballad of Captain Kidd", which narrates the exploits of a pirate named William Kidd. Despite its anonymous source, it is still a hymn sung and used in many Christian denominations and their activities.
When the hymn was published in B. F. White's The Sacred Harp (1844), it promoted the combination of text and tune of the hymn. In terms of the text, it remained the same ever since its popularity with the help of the Sacred Harp shape singers in 1844.
When singing this hymn, it should be in Dorian mode, which gives it a haunting quality. The hymn was previously noted the song to be sung in Aeolian mode or natural in many hymnals and it was revised later. This hymn also is unusual, with its meter of 6-6-6-3-6-6-6-6-6-3.
A favorite of the American composer Samuel Barber, the composer has written different variations of this hymn like "What Wondrous Love Is This" in 1958.
This hymn is very popular and most sung at Lent in the services. Often, it is reserved for powerful moments or depictions during the Good Friday, often as an opening hymn for the Mass. In some cases, the first two lines are commonly used as a refrain after Scripture reading.