Please turn your Service Book and Hymnal to number 24 and join with the clarinets in “While Shepherd’s Watched Their Flocks by Night”.

Meter: C.M.D.
Tempo: Joyfully
Music: Gottfried Wilhelm Fink, 1783-1846
Text: Nahum Tate, 1652-1715

“Wow, dude, like when the Angel of the Lord came down to announce Jesus’ birth to the Shepherds, man, SHEPHERDS! they must have been like, quaking in their boots and totally freaked out!”
“Oh man, you’re so right! They must have been OUT of their minds!”
“Give me another toke, I’m going to write a poem about it!”

While Shepherds watched their flock by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
Had Seized their troubled mind;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind

‘To you, in David’s town this day
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord;
And this shall be the sign:
The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid’

Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song:
‘All glory be to God on high,
And to earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from heaven to men
Begin and never cease!’

I’m pretty sure that’s how this poem happened.

Arranged for 4 clarinets: 024.ServiceBookAndHymnal

Anyway, I was playing the melody and thinking, jeeze, this seems familiar, I feel like playing it faster, it seems kind of ‘folky’. I paced it at 90, then felt compelled to play it double time.

After recording it, I realized, “Oh right, wait, isn’t this melody REALLY similar to Hymn 14, ‘Rejoice All Ye Believers”?’ Huh, I guess Gottfried Wilhelm Fink was also familiar with “Swedish Folk Melody”. Nice to know my instincts are based around melody.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn you hymnals to number 23 and join with the clarinets in “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”.

Name: Caron.
Meter: C. M. D.
Tempo: With movement, sweetly
Music: Richard Storrs Willis, 1819-1900
Text: Edmund Hamilton Sears, 1810-76

You might be familiar with this one!

Arrangement for 4 clarinets: 023.ServiceBookAndHymnal

I haven’t been super please with the Bass Clarinet on the tenor parts. That range of the Bass Clarinet is just a little too assertive for a tenor part. This time I transposed it down and octave and played it on Soprano Clarinet. I did play the Bass Part on Bass Clarinet.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 22 and join with the clarinets in singing “From Heaven Above”.

Meter: L.M.
Tempo: In flowing style
Music: Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1829-78

I really hadn’t been paying attention when I was younger, but I guess Martin Luther also wrote some hymns!


Standard operating procedure, record all 4 parts on soprano clarinet, then record the tenor and bass parts on bass clarinet. I applied the Audacity Large Room Reverb Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 21 and join with the clarinets in “All Praise to Thee” aka “Tallis’ Canon”.

Meter: L.M.
Tempo: With dignity
Music: Thomas Tallis, cir 1505-85
Text: Latin Hymns of XI cent.
German Hymn of XIV Cent.
Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Tr. Anonymous, 1858

I got a little obsessed with the arrangement of Tallis’ Canon and ended up with a fairly complex thing. Basically, the Canon is running against itself at two speeds. (I was really tempted to run another melody at 2x the faster speed, but that would be bebop.)

First I did the round with 4 beats per half note in two parts at a very slow tempo, basically half note equals 40 bpm, and recorded all the parts on bass clarinet.


Then I added the same parts, but with 4 beats per half note. In the end, the score ended up being for 7 bass clarinets and 3 soprano clarinets.


Here’s the translation of Luther’s text:

All praise to thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are thine alone.

Once did the skies before thee bow,
A Virgin’s arms contain thee now;
Angels who did in thee rejoice,
Now listen for thine infant voice.

A little child, thou art our guest,
That weary ones in thee may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is thy birth,
That we may rise to heaven from earth.

Thou comest in the darksome night,
To make us children of the light,
To make us in the realms divine,
Like thine own angels, ’round thee shine.

All this for us thy love hath done,
By this to thee our love is won,
For this we tune our cheerful lays,
And shout our thanks in ceaseless praise.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 20 (Second Tune) and join with the clarinets in “From East to West”.

Meter: L.M.
Tempo: With dignity
Music: Geistliche Lieder, Wittenberg, 1525
Words: Coelius Sedulius, cir. 450
Tr. John Ellerton, 1826-93

A second, slightly more sensible, and modern, setting for the words of “Coelius Sedulis” is a bit easier to interpret. Ahem, if modern equals the mid-1500s. Interestingly, it does remind me of the incidental music from a Shakespeare play at the American Players Theater in Spring Green. Apropos.

Here’s the pdf arrangement for clarinets: 020b.ServiceBookAndHymnal

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 20 (first tune) and join with the clarinets in singing, “From East to West”.

Meter: Plainsong, Mode III
Tempo: Unison
Arr. by E. T. Cook in the BBC Hymn Book
Text: Coelius Sedulius, Cir. 450
Tr. John Ellerton, 1826-93

It’s weird, the older the Hymn, the more work it is and the weirder the harmonies. This one ends on what is, more or less, a minor chord.

Here’s the pdf of my arrangement: 020.ServiceBookAndHymnal

Anyway, I worked on this last night for several hours and I’m still not entirely happy with my performance of the melody. I think I failed to get myself into the proper headspace for the performance of “Plainsong, Mode III”.

I tracked the melody five times and placed it across the stereo landscape. Then I played all three accompaniment parts on Soprano Clarinet. Finally doubled the Tenor and Bass parts on Bass Clarinet. Added the Audacity “Large Room” Reverb Effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 19 and join with the clarinets in “Christians, Awake!”.

Meter: 10 10, 10 10, 10 10.
Tempo: Broadly, with vigor
Music: John Wainwright, cir. 1723-68
Text: John Byrom, 1692-1763

This one is a little longer than most of the recent hymns.

Here’s the pdf of the arrangement: 19.ServiceBookAndHymnal

I went with the usual method, first recording all 4 parts with Soprano Clarinet, then doubling the bass and tenor parts on Bass Clarinet. For the record, this hymn marks the debut of a much nicer microphone for my home recording efforts. (Thanks to my lovely wife!). I think it sounds much, much better!

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 18 and join with the clarinets in “A Great and Mighty Wonder”.

Meter: 7 6, 7 6.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: Henry J. Gauntlett, 1805-76
Text: St. Germanus, cir. 634-734
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66, a.

A very short hymn, I was able to get this one knocked off after work and dog walk before Mrs. Flannestad got back from her job in Silly Valley.

Here’s the pdf of the Arrangement: 018.ServiceBookAndHymnal

After leaving the bass clarinet out for the last couple hymns, it is back with this one. I still did all the parts with Soprano Clarinet, but then doubled the Tenor and Bass parts with Bass Clarinet. I used the “Small Room” Audacity Reverb preset effect to give it a little presence, without losing too much volume.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to number 15 and join with the clarinets in singing, “Joy To The World!”.

Antioch, C.M.
In moderate time
Melody arr. by Lowell Mason, 1792-1872
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Here’s the pdf of the clarinet arrangement: 015.ServiceBookAndHymnal

I would assume most people, with even the most passing aquaintance with the Christian religion would be familiar with “Joy to the World!”, the most famous of the Advent hymns.

It is pretty short, so I played it 3 times, boldly the first time, quietly the second, and joyously the third.

This concludes the “Advent” section of the Hymnal. On to “Christmas” hymns next!

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn your hymnals to hymn 14, “Rejoice, All Ye Believers,” and join along with the Bass Clarinet quartet.

7 6, 7 6. D.
Swedish Folk Melody
Luarentius Laurenti, 1660-1722
Tr. Sarah Borthwick Findlater, 1823-1907

PDF of the arrangement:014.ServiceBookAndHymnal

This is an AABA form, with the exact same notes in 3 of the 4 lines.

The Alto, Tenor, and Bass parts were not very exciting, so I thought I would either play it really slow or really fast.

I took the Hymn at 120, which is quite a bit faster than the usual 80 or 90, I use for hymns. Definitely has a bit of a folk music feel.

After playing through the melody a couple times, I played it even faster and some rhythmic improvisation on the bass line let me to an upbeat Sonny Rollins kind of and some rhythms that are a little beyond my ability to write out exactly. And maybe accurately execute accurately. Still kind of fun to take some liberties with the hymns.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal