Near the end of his career, Erik Satie wrote five pieces for piano designated as nocturnes. Contrary to most of his oeuvre, these five pieces lack the satire, wit, and non-conformity Satie usually exhibited. Still, they are unmistakably Satie: soothing,floating, and very French. This work is a straightforward arrangement of Satie’s 4th Nocturne, applying the color and dynamic ranges of the orchestra to his piano writing while maintaining the enchanting dance-like character of the original work.
Like a River Glorious is a brief once-through of the traditional hymn tune WYE VALLEY meant to be ready to play in one rehearsal. It depicts the order, peace, and timelessness of God’s eternal kingdom with a sense of perpetual movement through the metaphor of a grand and majestic river. Readily playable by your school age musicians yet colorful and interesting enough to satisfy your most experienced players, Like a River Glorious fits perfectly into your services as prelude, postlude, or transitional musical worship while still being suitable for academic or civic concert settings.
Make His Praise a Glorious Thing is a new setting of the English language’s great doxology from the pen of Thomas Ken. It builds on his words with references to the Psalms’ multitude of exhortations to exuberantly praise God in manifold ways with glorious praise. The character of the piece reflects this with a joyous and spirited aesthetic above a driving tempo. The text also juxtaposes our contemporary praises within the historic stream of doxologies from saints past and future as a precursor to the eternal, magnificent, and heavenly doxologies portrayed in Revelation 5 and 7. The melody correspondingly has roots in the traditional Old 100th Psalm tune as well, although it will take a keen ear to catch it.
Although set for SATB choir, it is hoped that this accessible melody will find a place in your congregational singing also. Make His Praise a Glorious Thing is a wonderful call to worship, responsorial, or sacred concert opening or closing.
Ponder: to think about carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.
Anew: In a new or different and typically more positive way.
These two words come from the third stanza of Joachim Neander’s perennially popular hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” And just as this stanza invites us to “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,” this orchestral hymn invites us to consider afresh the attributes and works of Almighty God. Ponder Anew is purely an instrumental work but the text and tune are so familiar that the words will spontaneously spring to 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. So, as this new setting of the tune melds together peace, majesty, mystery, power, beauty, and grace it stirs the listener to “think carefully, in a new and more positive way, about what the Almighty can do.”
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 power and intimacy of the work interesting and enjoyable with music that reflects the majesty and mystery of its subject.
OK, to answer your first question, call it “suh-JEE-nuh.” Rhymes with Regina. This arrangement is a colorful and moving setting of the Charles Wesley hymn, “And Can It Be,” for traditional orchestra. The beauty of the music, the prominence of the familiar tune, and the text painting of Wesley’s poignant lyrics will find immediate acceptance in the hearts of its hearers. Aside from frequently shifting asymmetrical meters the difficulty level is very basic yet your musicians should still find it interesting and fulfilling to play.
In 1825, Thomas Campbell published a collection of twenty-three tunes under the title of The Bouquet. Campbell gave each of these tunes the name of a botanical species. One, titled SAGINA, was named for the family of flowering plants that includes baby’s breath and carnations.
Almost a century ealier, in 1738, Charles Wesley wrote six stanzas for his hymn titled “And Can it Be” as a reflection on his conversion to Christianity. By the mid-twentieth century, Campbell’s tune had become irrevocably wedded to Wesley’s verse in Christian hymnody. Two of Wesley’s stanzas along with the refrain, shown below, were chosen as inspiration for the music in this arrangement of the classic hymn tune.
Three accommodations make the music more accessible to church and community orchestras. First, important passages are liberally cued to keep the music workable even without full instrumentation. Second, several optional parts for band instruments are provided to allow current and former band musicians take part beside your orchestra players. And third, the piano/synthesizer part doubles key passages from most of the less common instruments such as harp, vibraphone and chimes.