Please turn to number 55 and join with the woodwinds in “Songs of Thankfulness”.

Number: 55
First Line: Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
Meter: 7 7, 7 7. D.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: John Richardson, 1816-79
Text: Christopher Wordsworth, 1807-85

Another very “folky” tune. Simple.

Clarinet Arrangement: 055-songsofthankfulness

This one felt like it needed a Soprano Sax. Only once on each instrument, three times through. Audacity “Medium Room” Reverb effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 54 (Second Tune) and join with the clarinets in “O Thou, Who by a Star”.

Number: 54 (Second Tune)
First Line: O Thou, Who by a Star
Meter: C.M.D.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: Henry Hiles, 1826-1904
Text: John Mason Neale, 1818-66

In the previous tune, the arranger pretty much used a quarter note per word. In this version, the arranger uses a note for every syllable, turning what was an 8 measure tune into a 16 measure tune. I would also say the style of Henry Hiles’ composition is much more influenced by what was contemporary music (at the time) than was Thomas Clark.

Clarinet Arrangement: 054b-othouwhobyastar

Due to the delicate nature of Hile’s harmonies, I only tracked each part once. Applied the Audacity “Medium Room” Reverb effect.

There isn’t always a lot of room, or call for, dynamic variation in the tunes of the hymns. This one strikes me as being a tad romantic, so I tried to reflect that in my playing.

It’s funny, how, depending on how they are played, the same intervals can sound “wrong” or “right”. It took a fair bit of effort to get some of the more unusual intervals in this tune to sound “right”, but in the end I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 54 (First Tune) and join with the clarinets in, “O Thou, Who By A Star”.

Number: 54 (First Tune)
First Line: O Thou, Who By A Star
Meter: C.M.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: Thomas Clark, 1775-1859
Text: John Mason Neale, 1818-66

I still find it kind of weird that so much information about these hymns is up for grabs on the Wikipedia. I also, growing up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, did not notice how many of our hymns were Anglican.

In any case, John Mason Neale, from the wikipedia:

Neale was born in London, his parents being the Revd Cornelius Neale and Susanna Neale, daughter of John Mason Good. He was educated at Sherborne School, Dorset, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where (despite being said to be the best classical scholar in his year) his lack of ability in mathematics prevented him taking an honours degree.[1] Neale was named after the Puritan cleric and hymn writer John Mason (1645–94), of whom his mother Susanna was a descendant.[2]

The interesting thing, though, about Neale, was that he was a scholar of religious traditions, which didn’t exactly endear him to the Anglican church.

In 1854 Neale co-founded the Society of Saint Margaret, an order of women in the Church of England dedicated to nursing the sick. Many Anglicans in his day, however, were very suspicious of anything suggestive of Roman Catholicism. Only nine years earlier, John Henry Newman had encouraged Catholic practices in Anglican churches and had ended up becoming a Roman Catholic. This encouraged the suspicion that anyone such as Neale was an agent of the Vatican, assigned to destroy Anglicanism by subverting it from within. Once, Neale was attacked and mauled at a funeral of one of the Sisters. From time to time unruly crowds threatened to stone him or to burn his house. He received no honour or preferment in England, and his doctorate was bestowed by Trinity College (Connecticut). However, his basic goodness eventually won the confidence of many who had fiercely opposed him, and the Sisterhood of St Margaret survived and prospered.

“O Thou, Who by a Star (dids’t guide the wise men on their way)” is a very short hymn, only 8 measures, however it is slightly annoying in that untransposed, for choir, it is written with 5 sharps. This means, once transposed for clarinets, it ends up with 7 sharps, aka ALL YOUR SHARPS ARE BELONG TO US. It is, fortunately, not an over complicated hymn.

Clarinet arrangement: 054a-othouwhobyastar

Doubled each part, arranging them across the sound stage. Applied the Audacity, “Medium Room” Reverb Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 53 (Second Tune) and join with the winds in singing, “Brightest and Best”.

Number: 53
First Line: Brightest and Best
Meter: 11 10, 11 10
Music: Himmels-Lust, Leipzig, 1675
Harm. J. S. Bach, 1685-1750
Text: Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

Something about Baroque Music always makes me think of Soprano Sax. I guess it is it’s similarity in tone to the English Horn and Oboe. Though, cough, really the Soprano Sax didn’t get invented until the 1840s. And the Clarinet didn’t exist in something like its current form until around the same time.

This is an older setting of this hymn (1675!), which has been tarted up a bit by that joker Johann Sebastian Bach.

Johann Sebastian Bach[a] (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach’s compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and over three hundred cantatas of which around two hundred survive.[3] His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.

Here’s the clarinet arrangement: 053b-brightestandbest

This Hymn struck me as a little odd. It kind of doesn’t have a typical chord sequence, and it doesn’t end particularly satisfyingly. Took me a while to find the dynamics and also to get my mind around the tonal palette.

Since Baroque tunes are fairly busy, I didn’t double any except the Soprano/Melody part, which I played on both Soprano Clarinet and Soprano Sax. I added an Audacity “Medium Room” Reverb Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 53 (First Tune) and join with the clarinets in, “Brightest and Best”.

Number: 53
First Line: Brightest and Best
Name: Morning Star.
Meter: 11 10, 11 10.
Tempo: With devotion
Music: James P. Harding, 1860-1911
Text: Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

Well, according to the wikipedia article on this Brightest and Best:

Brightest and Best” (occasionally rendered by its first line, “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning“) is a Christian hymn written in 1811 by the Anglican bishop Reginald Heber to be sung at the feast ofEpiphany.[1] It appeared in Heber’s widow’s compilation of hymns entitled Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Church Year in 1827. It can be sung to a number of tunes, including “Morning Star” by James P. Harding, “Epiphany” by Joseph Thrupp, and “Star in the East” by William Walker. It appears in The Lutheran Hymnal, and appeared in the 1966 Methodist hymnal. It has been recorded by a number of artists, including Glen Campbell, Joanne Hogg and Kathy Mattea (on her album Good News).

Glenn Campbell! Well, there you go.

I initially didn’t like it, despite its apparent familiarity, but after a while it kind of grew on me. Hypnotic, so much so, that I kept getting lost in the phrasing and forgetting how many times through I had already played it.

Transposed for clarinets, it does end up with 5 sharps, which is slightly annoying, and with some very challenging fingering transitions.

Clarinet arrangement: 053-brightest_and_best

Clarinets only, three times through. Doubled each part across the sound field. Applied Audacity “Medium Room” Reverb Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 52 and join with the clarinets in “As With Gladness”.

First Line: As With Gladness Men of Old
Name: DIX (Treuer Heiland).
Meter: 7 7, 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: Conrad Kocher, 1786-1872
Text: William Chatterton Dix, 1837-98

Regarding William Chatterton Dix, from the Wikipedia Article:

William Chatterton Dix (14 June 1837 – 9 September 1898) was an English writer of hymns and carols. He was born in Bristol, the son of John Dix, a local surgeon, who wrote The Life of Chatterton the poet, a book of Pen Pictures of Popular English Preachers and other works….Few modern writers have shown so signal a gift as his for the difficult art of hymn-writing. His original hymns are found in most modern hymn-books…At the age of 29 he was struck with a near fatal illness and consequently suffered months confined to his bed. During this time he became severely depressed. Yet it is from this period that many of his hymns date. He died at Cheddar, Somerset, England, and was buried at his parish church.

Here’s the text from this hymn, named after Mr Dix.

As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward beaming bright;
So, most gracious God, may we
Evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed,
There to bend the knee before
Him whom heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sins alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright
Need they no created light;
Thou its light, its job, its crown
Thou its sun which goes not down;
There for ever may we sing
Alleluias to our King. Amen.

There are some important turns of phrase in there, that will, in fact, echo down the years and into gospel and other musics!

Here is the clarinet arrangement: 052-aswithgladness

Speaking of Gospel, the phrasing of this one ends up being a sort of call and response form, which is kind of cool. The usual procedure: double each part, three times through, audacity “Medium Room” Reverb Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 51 and join with the clarinets in “Earth Has Many a Noble City”.

First Line: Earth Has Many a Noble City
Meter: 8 7, 8 7.
Tempo: With dignity
Music: Christian Friedrich Witt, 1660-1716
Text: Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413
Tr. Edward Caswall, 1814-78

With this hymn, we cross from the “Christmas” section of the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal into the Epiphany section.

This hymn is fairly perfect. A sort of template for “Hymn-Ness” with its brevity and concise precision.

Clarinet Arrangement: 051-earthhasmanyanoblecity

The usual, each clarinet part doubled and mixed across the sound field. Audacity “Medium Room” Reverb effect applied.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

What’s Up With the Hymns?

Apparently, this whole “Lutheran Hymn” thing puzzles quite a few people, so I thought I might write a little post about it.

First off, I grew up in a small town in South Western Wisconsin which was mostly populated by Norwegian and Lutherans. I grew up singing these hymns every Sunday. When I was old enough, I joined the children’s choir and continued in church choirs through most of high school.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs and interviews with musicians, and a lot of them talk about their very early inspirations.

Many of those musicians were lucky enough to have grown up going to African American Gospel churches or to belong to some ethnic group with an interesting folk music tradition.

However, as mentioned, I grew up going to a Lutheran church in Wisconsin. That is my tradition, and in a lot of ways, my “folk” music. That, and “Old Tyme Gospel Music”. But perhaps more about that later.

I find the basic harmonies and melodies of these old hymns, especially the more open ones, to be quite moving and powerful.

When I was looking around for some music to learn and play on the clarinet, I thought to myself, “Hey self! It might be funny to track down a Lutheran Hymnal, and learn those old hymns on the clarinet.” Get re-in touch with the memories and feelings of my youth, good and bad.

As a bonus, the hymns are neither particularly challenging nor long, which is, in fact, a big bonus for someone with a full time job who is also trying to (re) learn Jazz and to play the clarinet and sax.

I can transcribe, transpose, and record all 4 parts of the hymn in a few hours, and it is good for me to learn the recording, mixing, and arranging software. Most important, I am re-learning to play harmony parts with other instruments, even though I am playing all the instruments myself.

So, that’s what’s up with the hymns.

I hope you enjoy them a little bit, and that they might remind you of something of your past or present, good or bad.


Please turn to number 50 and join with the clarinets in “Jesus’ Name of Wondrous Love”.

First Line: Jesus’ Name of Wondrous Love
Meter: 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: Slowly, with dignity
Music: Henry John Gauntlett, 1805-76
Text: William Walsham How, 1823-97

The first, and only hymn, from the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal, celebrating “Circumcision and Name of Jesus”.

I am not sure if it is specifically to celebrate Jesus’ circumcision or any circumcision.

Clarinet Arrangement: 50-jesusnameofwondrouslove

Jesus, Name of wondrous love!
Human Name of God above;
Pleading only this we flee,
Helpless, O our God, to thee. Amen.

Kind of a bleak, masochistic, hymn, but at least it is mercifully, and appropriately, SHORT.

Doubled clarinets on all parts, with the usual “Large Room” audacity Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 49 and join with the clarinets in singing, “Thy Little Ones”.

First Line: Thy Little Ones
Name: Paedia.
Meter: L.M.
Tempo: Simply
Music: J. A. P. Shulz, 1747-1800
Text: Hans Adolph Brorson, 1694-1764
Tr. Harriet Reynolds Krauth Spaeth, 1845-1925

A short and “Simple” hymn for Christmas.

Refreshingly, instead of telling children to behave and mind their parents at Christmas, the lyrics of this one say that we best approach enlightenment as little children would, with innocence and wonder.

“Thy little ones, dear Lord, are we,
And come thy lowly bed to see;
Enlighten every soul and mind,
That we the way to thee may find.”

A sentiment I do not find wholly alien.

Clarinet arrangement: 049-thylittleones

All clarinets this time. Three times through, second time quietly, building towards a triumphant third. Technically, this is the last Christmas hymn in the book. After a single hymn for, of all things, “Circumcision and Name of Jesus”, we are on to Ephiphany and then Lent.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal