Looking for a sacred bassoon solo? Well, you’ve found it! Utilizing the melody from Morning Has Broken(the traditional Gaelic tune BUNESSAN) A Hymn of Beginnings presents a familiar yet fresh treatment of the tune in this setting for solo bassoon and piano. Suitable as a prelude, postlude, offertory, meditative, or other functions in a sacred service it is also at home in a recital or concert program.
It was one of those accidents where you find something useful when you’re looking for something else. While reading on the nature of worship, a particular blog article ended with Adoniram Judson’s early 19th Century baptismal poem, “Come Holy Spirit, Dove Divine.” The flowing text called out (at least to me!) for a musical setting. Accordingly, some melodic and harmonic ideas began to percolate in my thoughts. However, before getting very far along in writing a tune, there were two surprises in store. First many others had already set the text to music before (with a multitude of tunes) going back to at least 1833. Second, despite being a Baptist for over forty years, I discovered that this hymn has been in the Baptist Hymnal since 1956 yet I have no recollection of every singing it! Well, chagrined at my ignorance, I carried on writing a new melody and harmony for this deserving text. I sought to make it friendly to congregational singers while still containing rich and sing-able harmonies and so aimed for a four-part hymn-style form. However, as I suspect my ignorance of the hymn is a common condition, a fresh and modern tune which would be at home in varied musical styles and have popular appeal was also pursued. The result is a delightful and uplifting tune, easy to sing, with an optimistic and forward momentum, commensurate with the meaning of believers’ baptism, “Buried with Him in baptism; raised to walk in new life.” The music is flexible in application to many church music styles: praise team and band, choir and organ, congregation and piano, or mix and match to fit your needs. May you find Come,Holy Spirit, Dove Divine, singing a much needed text, a means for your congregation to joyfully join with new believers in celebration of their baptism!
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.
This fresh setting of the Welsh tune, HYFYRDOL, works perfectly for an offertory, prelude, or devotional function. Although written for the Advent season, the multiple familiar hymns set with this tune (e.g., Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners; Love Divine, All Loves Excelling; Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus; etc.) make the piece suitable throughout the church year. It is readily performed by high school or higher musicians yet still contains sufficient variety and artistic expression to be rewarding for even advanced performers. The familiar melody is stated clearly throughout and accompanied with interesting and sonorous harmonies so as to be accessible to all audiences.
Although the familiar melody is ever-present in this setting of “O, Sacred Head Now Wounded” it will sound very foreign to most ears. In acknowledgment of the atonal origins of the pierrot ensemble, this arrangement embraces dissonance and chromaticism and avoids clear statements of conventional harmony without, however, being altogether atonal. Thus, it is a most unusual setting of the tune, but one that poignantly paints the deep anguish expressed in the hymn text, which is the anguish of the crucifixion’s witnesses. The music is simultaneously shocking and familiar, which seems a fitting way to present this familiar story in all its appalling horror.
The music may be successfully performed with advanced high school or later musicians. It is not excessively demanding technically but will require artistic taste and expressiveness and good counting skills. It is well suited for recital or chamber ensemble concert in either secular or sacred venue.