Old Indian Hymn (c. 1600)

This haunting melody has an interesting history beyond its original intent, thus described below by the person who first notated it.

"The Narragansett Indians have a tradition, that the following tune was heard in the air by them,

and other tribes bordering on the Atlantic coast, many years before the arrival of the whites in America;

and that on their first visiting a church in Plymouth Colony, after the settlement of that place by the whites,

the same tune was sung while performing divine service, and the Indians knew it as well as the whites.

The tune therefore is preserved among them to this day. -Thomas Commuck (1845)

Used with the knowledge and approval of the Brothertown Indian Nation with special thanks to Dr. Courtney Cottrell, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Brothertown Indian Nation, and to Gabriel Kastelle,  Independent scholar, musician, composer and musicologist.  

Below, a video about a fascinating re-creation of an early performance.

A Narragansett/Brothertown melody

as notated by Thomas Commuck (1804-1855)

The original note shape as it appeared in a hymnalin 1845