Jesus told us that no one puts new wine into old wineskins, but Robert Myers is putting that to the test with a mid-life career change into composition with a focus on sacred music, for Jesus also said, “what is .
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.
There are 150 psalms in the Bible, each one originally meant to be sung; and so they were for most of the last 3,000 years, beginning at the Jerusalem Temple. They were adopted as the primary song text of the early church as evidenced by Col. 3:16 and maintained in the Western church throughout medieval times. Psalms were the featured texts of most of the Reformers and were the sole mode of sacred singing among the first American settlers. Of late, hymns and choruses and popular songs with human texts have almost entirely replaced the singing of God’s word in many churches. This scarcity of Psalms in the Church’s song is a great loss which frequently compels me to do what I can to promote their increase.
The brief twelfth Psalm is a lament painting a bleak scenario of engulfing depravity and vanishing righteousness in ancient Israel. It could just as well have been commentary on the decline of morality in contemporary Western society. Further, rather than offering resolution or relief for the psalmist’s desperate plea for help, the Psalm asserts that “the words of the LORD are pure words,” to say in effect that hope stands only in the Word of God.
TWELVE attempts to capture this chaos and despair of the twelfth Psalm through pointillistic phrasing, dissonant harmonies, cross rhythms, and extended choral and instrumental techniques. The psalm’s slender ray of hope is portrayed in a contrasting section of subdued peacefulness painted with flowing themes in conventional harmonies.
What Child We Sing? blends the melodies of GREENSLEEVES and NOEL NOUVELET into a new work for orchestra that explores the clash of transcendence meeting imminence at Christ’s incarnation. Soft and ethereal whispers of strings and winds meet violent thunders of brass and percussion in contemplation of the awesome majesty of the Eternal Son wrapped in the harmless, delicate flesh of a newborn babe.
What Child We Sing? fits perfectly in the Advent or Christmas seasons with its strong exposition of traditional Christmas carols and would be suitable as a prelude, offertory, or reflective music in either liturgical or unstructured service. It has sufficient artistic metric to be suitable for the concert stage as well, although it is not at all difficult, being suitable for intermediate or higher level musicians. “
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.
Fingal’s Fantasy is built on three synthesized, seven-pitch scales derived from the first three variations of the opening theme of Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, better known as Fingal’s Cave. Each scale is developed in its own section to build a three-part work of contrasting styles. Mendelssohn’s original motive can be clearly heard in the first development but appears more heavily disguised in subsequent sections. Despite the use of synthetic scales, the piece ends with a strong declaration of B-minor in homage to Mendelssohn’s selected key for Fingal’s Cave. Fingal’s Fantasy is only moderately difficult but will engage even advanced performers with an excursion into 21st century composition. It is suitable for concert or recital repertoire.