“Take Time to Be Holy” is becoming well-known in LDS circles, thanks to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s frequent performance and recording. Former Tabernacle organist John Longhurst joined a text by W.D. Longstaff to the traditional Irish tune “Slane” (known to the rest of the Christian world as “Be Thou My Vision”) to create a beautifully reverent admonition to trust in Christ.
The text is a poem written ca. 1882 by William D. Longstaff. It has appeared in various hymnals sung to the tune “Holiness” (which sounds similar to “More Holiness Give Me”). The message of the poem is surprisingly relevant to 21st century life. The second verse begins, “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on” and continues with “run not before Him… be calm in thy soul…” and finishes with my favorite phrase in the hymn, “Thou soon shall be fitted for service above.”
Longhurst’s arrangement does a nice job of mirroring the text. The music moves along calmly and lets the beauty of the Irish tune and the folk harmonies carry it forward. The organ part is not difficult—the last verse is in the key of E and has more movement in the pedal. Organ accompaniment is preferable, but piano will work. If you perform this on a piano, you will have to drop many of the beautiful inner harmonies, as the tenor and bass lines are too far apart to play simultaneously. You will also lose the sustained quality of the bass.
Most ward choirs will have no difficulty with this piece. There are only a few accidentals, and they occur in predictable places. The alto line is a bit lower than usual. This is a piece I can highly recommend.
Reviewer: Jessi Vandagriff