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.
“Crown Him” reinterprets the classic hymn tunes DIAMDEM and CORONATION (All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name) plus DIADEMATA (Crown Him with Many Crowns) as a unified grand anthem for orchestra. The music is celebratory and majestic offset with moments of intimacy appropriate for the coronation of our Eternal King. Sure to be thrilling for all listeners, it is suitable for use at Easter, Ascension Sunday, services in anticipation of Christ’s return or ultimate victory and, well, really any Sunday as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection every week. It is crafted for the variable instrumentation and skills of the typical church orchestra with frequent tuttis, exposed parts only where competent players are common, friendly keys and meters, liberal cues, no more than three musical lines at a time (usually just two), and musical figures well within the grasp of high school players. The one possible exception would be the timpani line where a fairly accomplished player is needed.
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.