Come, O Thou Traveler, 1908. Harvey Bartlett Gaul, 1881-1945. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M2072.G
Gaul composed the anthem Come, O Thou Traveler for SATB mixed chorus and organ during his tenure as organist and choirmaster at Emmanuel Church in Cleveland. He dedicated the piece to Henry G. Eskuche, organist at St. Peter's Church in Brooklyn, New York. It was published in 1908 by the Boston Music Company.
The text of Come, O Thou Traveler is by Methodist hymn-writer Charles Wesley. The original hymn (1742) consists of fourteen verses, of which Gaul sets stanzas one, eight and nine. The work begins with a unison C-minor motif in the men's voices, "Come, O Thou Traveler unknown." The theme recurs three times throughout the anthem, always in octaves SATB at significant textual phrases: "I mean to stay and wrestle till the break of day;" "Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move, and tell me if Thy name is Love;" and "Thy nature and Thy name is Love." Hymn writer Isaac Waats commented that Wesley's single poem about wrestling Jacob was worth all the verse that Waats himself had written.
At the second stanza, "Yield to me now, for I am weak," Gaul changes the key to C major and the texture to solo quartet. The full chorus reenters at "'Tis Love! Thou die'st for me." The work climaxes on a C-major chord in second inversion with the sopranos on a high G, "Pure universal Love, Thou art to me, Thou art to all." Gaul then alters Wesley's concluding line. Wesley's "To me, to all, Thy bowels move," becomes Gaul's "To me, to all, Thy heart doth move." The anthem ends pp with the opening theme.