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Sheet Music: Nearer, My God, to Thee

TitleNearer, My God, to Thee
Alternate titlesBethany
ComposerLowell Mason (1792–1872)
InstrumentationFlute trio
KeyF major
RangeE4–D6
Time signature4/4
Tempo72 BPM
Performance time0:55
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (46 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (1 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (665 kB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (1 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (706 kB)
Date added2010-06-13
Last updated2010-06-13
CategoriesFuneral music, Hymn tunes

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Sunday 13 June 2010

Tune of the Day: Nearer, My God, to Thee

Music by Lowell Mason

Although many different musical settings of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” exist, the hymn is generally sung to the 1856 tune “Bethany” by Lowell Mason. Mason's version is commonly associated with the RMS Titanic, as one passenger reported that the ship's band played the hymn as the Titanic sank. The “Bethany” version was also notably played by the ship's band in James Cameron's 1997 film Titanic.

The composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert, moved by the Titanic tragedy, wrote six works based on Mason's setting, including an organ fantasia. The same setting is also quoted in Charles Ives's fourth symphony.

The tune was also played at the funerals of former United States Presidents James Garfield and Gerald R. Ford.