(To learn how to play this on piano, watch the video at bottom of page.)
William Hunter was born in Ireland near Ballymoney, County Antrim. Known as a Methodist Episcopal minister, he was born in 1811, and came to America while still young. William graduated college in his early twenties, going on to be a professor in Alleghany College. Aside from “I Feel Like Traveling On”, he wrote quite a few hymns, many of which were self-published in his own collections “Select Melodies,” “Minstrel of Zion”, and “Songs of Devotion”.
Of the roughly 125 hymns he wrote, I’m most familiar with this one, having grown up hearing it in church most of my life. “Rest for the Weary” is another one I enjoy… at some point it will probably wind up on this site. :^)
But ‘Traveling On’ is by far my favorite of William Hunter’s songs. I like happy. And songs that start your toes tapping. This hymn might be talking about the end of a life, but it’s happy. If you’ve lived well, and maintain your faith, moving on is not a bad thing. It’s just time for a change. It puts death in a different perspective.
Of course, the music is strong and fast-paced. That’s one of the reasons this is such a favorite for me. As a matter of fact, most of the time it’s a struggle to tone down my enthusiasm when playing; this was the first gospel song in a while that I didn’t have to hit the brakes now and then. It was lots of fun playing. Kind of got away from me once or twice, I’m sure you can tell when that happens in the video.
The musical pattern is fairly simple and repetitive without the words (and no, no singing from me… you wouldn’t like it). The best way I could think to give it some variety was to change the keys from verse to verse. That’s good for me, I’m not so comfortable outside of the key of ‘C.’ Need the practice! It was really nice to cut loose with this one.
Hope you enjoy! (The free sheet music is available through the menu tab at the top of the page.)