Ponder: to think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.
Anew: In a new or different and typically more positive way.
Ponder Anew is the title of my latest hymn arrangement for orchestra. The title comes from the 3rd line of what is usually presented in hymnals as the 3rd or 4th stanza of the hymn, Praise to the LORD the Almighty. This line states: “ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” Using the definitions above (taken from the online English Oxford Dictionary), this line could be rephrased, “think carefully, in a new and more positive way, about what the Almighty can do .”
To think about things in a new and more positive way is much of the point of writing new hymn arrangements. A fresh or different musical setting of a familiar text emphasizes different words and phrases or casts the words in new light. The differences may be subtle or startling but, either way, when well done a text that had become stale or threadbare can shine with a new brilliance that renews the power of the words. Admittedly, Ponder Anew is purely an instrumental work but the text and tune is so familiar that the words will spontaneously spring into the listener’s mind as the theme unwinds. Thereby, the new harmonies, rhythms, and phrasings in Ponder Anew will likely elicit from the listener a new and different way of thinking about the text. If the music achieves my intent, the listener will consider afresh the attributes and works of Almighty God when hearing this completely new setting of the tune.
A bit of background on the arrangement:
Joachim Leander’s “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty,” as translated by Catherine Winkworth, has consistently been one of the most published hymns in the English language since the mid-20th Century. Its anonymously composed tune, LOBE DEN HERREN, almost exclusively paired with this text since the 17th Century, is also much loved. Even J.S. Bach found it suitable to feature in his 137th cantata.
This arrangement for orchestra features three variations of the complete hymn tune utilizing metrical and harmonic changes to maintain focus on the tune and its text. These are bracketed via repetitions of the first five tune pitches in harmonic planing over a crescendoed pedal tone producing steadily increasing tension with unexpected resolutions of the beginning and concluding phrases.
The music in not particularly difficult and should be readily playable by high school or higher level musicians. Yet, both musicians and audience will find the work interesting and enjoyable with music that reflects the majesty and mystery of the its subject.
Leave a request in the comments for information on obtaining the sheet music.