- The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.
st. 1 = Ps. 145:1-3
st. 2 = Ps. 145:4-6
st. 3 = Ps. 145:6-8
Based on Psalm 145: 1-8, "I Will Extol You" is reprinted, with a few alterations, from the 1912 Psalter. This part of the psalm centers on the well-known Hebrew confession "God is great, God is good!"
The tune NOEL (also used at 185) is also known as EARDISLEY or GERARD. Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b Lambeth, London. England. 1842; d. Westminster, London, 1900) adapted this traditional English melody (probably one of the variants of the folk song "Dives and Lazarus"), added phrases of his own to recast the melody in common meter double, and published it first in his Church Hymns with Tunes (1874). In that collection Sullivan set this tune to the Christmas carol "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which explains one of the tune names.
Though NOEL has frequent changes of harmony, do not sing it too slowly; keep the rhythmic energy moving. Antiphonal performance may highlight the refrain (second half of st. 3 and 5) in this psalm: all sing stanzas 1, 3, and 5; alternate groups sing stanzas 2 and 4. The folk origin of the tune suggests unison singing to most, but Sullivan's harmony will attract some choristers. Either way, this is lively music.
Sullivan was born of an Italian mother and an Irish father who was an army bandmaster and a professor of music. Sullivan entered the Chapel Royal as a chorister in 1854. He was elected as the first Mendelssohn scholar in 1856, when he began his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory (1858-1861) and in 1866 was appointed professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music.
Early in his career Sullivan composed oratorios and music for some Shakespeare plays. However, he is best known for writing the music for lyrics by William S. Gilbert, which produced popular operettas such as H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), The Mikado (1884), and Yeomen of the Guard (1888). These operettas satirized the court and everyday life in Victorian times.
Although he composed some anthems, in the area of church music Sullivan is best remembered for his hymn tunes, written between 1867 and 1874 and published in The Hymnary (1872) and Church Hymns (1874), both of which he edited. He contributed hymns to A Hymnal Chiefly from The Book of Praise (1867) and to the Presbyterian collection Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867). A complete collection of his hymns and arrangements was published posthumously as Hymn Tunes by Arthur Sullivan (1902). Sullivan steadfastly refused to grant permission to those who wished to make hymn tunes from the popular melodies in his operettas.
- Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.
- Listen and view this song in a worship service at Calvin College's Worship Symposium.
- The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, NOEL
Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:
- Archer, Malcolm. After the Last Verse. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 502 6 
- Noble, T. Tertius. Fifty Free Organ Accompaniments to Well-Known Hymn Tunes. J. Fischer 8430 
- Rawsthorne, Noel. 200 Last Verses. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 189 6 
- Winn, Cyril. 41 Descants to Familiar Hymn Tunes. Oxford 
- Words and Music: both are in Public Domain. You do not need permission to reprint this song.
- Words and Music: The Words and Music are in the Public Domain; you do not need permission to project or reprint the Words and Music.