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Lorenzo Lyons (1807-1886)

James McGranahan

Michael-Thomas Foumai


Arr, 2021
Orchestra (with Optional Voice)
timp+2/hp/str and voice (opt.)
4 minutes (Orchestra Only)
4 minutes (Voice, Two-verses
6 minutes (Voice, All verses)

Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra
June 4-6, 2021
Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra
Raiatea Helm, voice

Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
Honolulu, HI


Known as Makua Laiana, Revered Lorenzo Lyons was born on April 18, 1807 in Colrain, Massachusetts and on July 16, 1832, he arrived in Hawaiʻi Island aboard the Averick, a whaling ship, as party to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in the Fifth Company of Protestant Missionaries. Lyons would be become a prolific writer and translator of Hawaiian language hymns, with several hundred to his name. In the article The Gospel Roots of “Hawaiʻi Aloha,” Ralph Thomas Kam writes, “Lyons has been called the ʻDr. Watts of Hawaiʻi,ʻ” comparing him to the father of English hymnody, Rev. Dr. Isaac Watts.


A common misunderstanding is that Lyons alone composed the music and words to Hawaiʻi Aloha, whereas he was the author of just the words that would be set to the hymn tune titled I Left it all with Jesus, composed by the American James McGranahan (1840-1907). And so the genesis of the words and music of this beloved and revered mele of Hawaiʻi, reside in sources transplanted to the island shores. Since no date accompanies Lyon’s handwritten words, placing an exact date of origin has been open to speculation. 1852 has often been a date appearing as a possible year of composition, however, given that McGranahan would have been 12 years old, barring history’s proclivities for child prodigies, the estimated date is likely too early given the logistics, dates and publication sources. Hawaiʻi Aloha, along with Hawaiʻ Ponoʻi written by King David Kalākaua with music by Henri Berger were candidates for the official state song, the later being officially adopted.


This new arrangement prefaces the first verse and chorus with a sweeping orchestral introduction based on the first four beats of McGranahan’s melody. A brief interlude in the brass restates this starting music with the whole of the orchestra entering to announce the second verse and chorus with more celebration. An extended orchestral coda brings the opening four beats in staggered choral entrances for one final grand, organ-like statement of the first phrase. The work closes with the last phrase of the chorus restated. © MTF

*Digitally published for the Hawaiʻi Symphony Sheraton Starlight Series on June 4-6 2021.

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