From the recording Free Range Hymns
7. In lonely mountain ways
"Hymnal: A Worship Book" #560
Text: Sugao Nishimura, 1903; trans. By Paul R. Gregory, 1983, alt.
Tune: Aaron Chapin, "Kentucky Harmony", 1816
Daryl: soprano sax, voice
Frances: violin, voice
Nathan: banjo, voice
“In Lonely Mountain Ways” is a Japanese hymn written by Nishimura Sugao in 1903. A teacher and headmaster, Nishimura found himself trapped alone for the night at a mountain pass while traveling by train and wrote the text in this moment of loneliness. The text is beautifully matched with another tune from Kentucky Harmony, emblematic of the “high, lonesome sound” characteristic of the Appalachian mountains. As we arranged this song using the clawhammer banjo as a starting point, the music—due to the stylistic tendencies of clawhammer technique—pulled towards 4/4 time instead of 6/8 as it exists in the hymnal.