Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
  • for: String Ensemble: Solo Violin, Solo Cello, Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cell, Double Bass
  • duration: approx. 6:00
  • difficulty: easy
  • text: Psalm 13 (adapted)
  • music: PICARDY, 16th Century French Song

The hymn, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” may have origins as far back as the 4th Century church, being long used both as a Christmas hymn and to focus worshippers on the mystery of the incarnation and the Eucharist. Thus, this piece is well-suited for Advent, Christmas, or any observance of communion. The tune, PICARDY, comes from a 1680 French song book.

This arrangement maintains the original melody in three contrasting settings bookended between rich sequences of tonal clusters. Solo violin makes the first statement of the melody in silvery harmonics over static chords. Solo violin and solo cello take the second statement in a contrapuntal fashion over homophonic harmonies. The third statement changes tempo and style to reflect the heavenly adoration of the Lamb portrayed in the text. Here the melody is taken by ensemble violins while solo violin adds countermelody and low strings provide a rhythmic pulse.

This arrangement is meant for players of mixed abilities. The ensemble parts are easy and intended for beginning and early music students. The solo parts are suitable for intermediate to advanced  players. Thus, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” is well-suited for a string studio with a range of abilities, a student-faculty group, or a typical church ensemble with a mixture of young and mature, student and professional.

Purchase score and parts here.

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