Please turn to number 40 and join with the clarinets in “The First Noel”.

Meter: Irregular. With Refrain.
Tempo: With Spirit
Music: Traditional English Carol
Text: Traditional English Carol

Another true Christmas Warhorse and another enjoyable song to play.

From the wikipedia:

The First Noel” (also written “The First Noël” and “The First Nowell“) is a traditional classical English Christmas carol, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier.[2][3] Noel is an Early Modern Englishsynonym of “Christmas“.[4]
In its current form, it is of Cornish origin, and it was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God. Today, it is usually performed in a four-part hymn arrangement by the English composer John Stainer, first published in his Carols, New and Old in 1871.[2] Variations of its theme are included in Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s Carol Symphony.

The melody is unusual among English folk melodies in that it consists of one musical phrase repeated twice, followed by a refrain which is a variation on that phrase. All three phrases end on the third of the scale. It is thought to be a version of an earlier melody sung in a church gallery setting; a conjectural reconstruction of this earlier version can be found in the New Oxford Book of Carols.[5]

Clarinet Arrangement: 040.TheFirstNoel

Doubled all parts and went with the “Medium Room” Audacity Reverb Effect, as I’ve been feeling slightly self conscious, thanks to some facebook comments from alleged friends, about over using the more extreme reverb settings. Which do you prefer? Are the “Church Hall” type reverb effects distracting?

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 39 and join with the clarinets in “Good Christian Men Rejoice”.

Meter: Irregular
Tempo: Smoothly, in quiet time
Music: XIV cent. German Melody
Text: Medieval Latin Carol
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Not sure why, but I find this music strangely moving. Maybe I’m just getting the hang of playing hymns on the clarinet or something. I do seem to enjoy the older hymns the most…

Clarinet arrangement:039.GoodChristianMenRejoice

Doubled all parts and applied the usual Audacity reverb “Church Hall” effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 38 and join with the clarinets in “Lo How a Rose E’Er Blooming”.

Meter: 7 6, 7 6, 6 7 6.
Tempo: Tenderly
Music: Geistliche Kirchengesang, Cologne, 1599
Text: XVI cent.
Tr. St. 1,2 Theodore Baker, 1851-1934
St. 3, Harriet R. Krauth, 1845-1925
St. 4, John Caspar Mattes, 1876-1948

Another of my personal favorite hymn melodies!

The text is thought to be penned by an anonymous author expressing fulfillment of the prophecy ofIsaiah 11:1 The piece first appeared in print in the late 16th century. The hymn has been used by both Catholics and Protestants, with the focus of the song being Mary or Jesus, respectively.[1] In addition, there have been numerous versions of the hymn, with varying texts and lengths. In 1844, the German hymnologist Friedrich Layriz (de) added three more stanzas, the first of which, Das Blümelein so kleine, remained popular and has been included in Catholic hymnals.[2]

The tune most familiar today appears in the Speyer Hymnal (printed in Cologne in 1599), and the familiar harmonization was written by German composer Michael Praetorius in 1609.[1]

Here’s the clarinet arrangement: 038.LoHowARoseEErBlooming

I doubled each clarinet part and added the usual audacity “Church Hall” Reverb effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 37 and join with the clarinets in “Love Came Down at Christmas”.

Meter: 6 7, 6 7.
Tempo: Brightly
Music: Traditional Irish Air
Harmony from the Revised Church Hymnary
Text: Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1830-94

Apparently, this text has been sung to many different melodies, and by many different people, including Shawn Colvin and some modern band called “Jars of Clay”.

From the wikipedia article:

The poem has been set to music as a Christmas carol by many composers including Harold Darke, Leo Sowerby, John Kelsall and John Rutter[2] and is also sung to the traditional Irish melody “Garton”.[3] More recently, the poem was given a modern treatment by Christian band Jars of Clay on their 2007 album,Christmas Songs.[4] American composer Jennifer Higdon set the text for solo soprano, harp and four-part chorus.[5] A new setting by the British composer David J Loxley-Blount was performed in Southwark Cathedral on 8 December 2014 by the Financial Times Choir conducted by Paul Ayres. It was repeated by the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree on 11 December 2014.[6]

Studwell describes the poem as “simple, direct and sincere” and notes that it is a rare example of a carol which has overcome the disadvantage of “not having a tune (or two or three) which has caught the imagination of holiday audiences.”[7]

This appears to be one of the simpler settings of the poem. Here’s my transcription for clarinet quartet: 037.LoveCameDownAtChristmas

I doubled the melody part, but otherwise left it at one clarinet each. I also went with a less extreme reverb, since it is fairly lively, and played it through 3 times.

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 36 and join with the clarinets in, “In The Bleak Midwinter”.

Meter: Irregular.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: Gustav Theodore Holst, 1874-1934
Text: Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1830-94

I’ll take famous composers for $500! I had no idea that one of my favorite hymns was by Gustav Holst!

From the wikipedia article on Holst:

Gustav Theodore Holst (born Gustavus Theodore von Holst; 21 September 1874 – 25 May 1934) was an English composer, arranger and teacher. Best known for his orchestral suite The Planets, he composed a large number of other works across a range of genres, although none achieved comparable success. His distinctive compositional style was the product of many influences, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss being most crucial early in his development. The subsequent inspiration of the English folksong revival of the early 20th century, and the example of such rising modern composers as Maurice Ravel, led Holst to develop and refine an individual style.

The poem it is based on was first published in Scribner’s magazine. From the wikipedia article:

“In the Bleak Midwinter” is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossettiwritten before 1872 in response to a request from the magazine Scribner’s Monthly for a Christmas poem.[1]It was published posthumously in Rossetti’s Poetic Works in 1904.

I have, of course, arranged it for 4 clarinets:035.WhenChristmasMornIsDawning

I recorded each voice twice and added the usual tweaked Audacity Reverb Effect “Church Hall”.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air –
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 35 and join with the clarinets in “When Christmas Morn is Dawning.

Meter: 7 6, 7 6.
Tempo: Simply
Music: German Folksong, 1823
Arr. by Elisabeth Ehrenborg-Posse, 1818-80
Tr. Claude William Foss, 1855-1935

the pdf of the clarinet arrangement: 035.WhenChristmasMornIsDawning

This is a really pleasant song. Very simple melody with uncomplicated harmonies. It reminds me of Quaker Hymns and other songs like that.

When Christmas morn is dawning
In faither I would repair
Unto the lowly manger;
My Savior lieth there,
Unto the lowly manger;
My Savior lieth there.

How kind, O loving Savior,
To come from heaven above;
From sin and evil save us,
And keep us in thy love.

We need thee, blessed Jesus,
Our dearest friend thou art;
Forbid that we by sinning
Should grieve thy loving heart. Amen.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 34 and join with the clarinets in, “The Holy Son of God Most High”.

Meter: L.M.
Tempo: Slowly, with dignity
Music: Geistliche Lieder, Leipzig, 1539
Harm. J.S. Bach, 1685-1750
Text: Henry More, 1614-87

I still don’t quite get these J.S. Bach arrangements. I have to fight with myself to even get them to this state. I really wish I had a choir director giving me some direction on dynamics and tempo.

Clarinet Arrangement: 034.TheHolySonOfGodMostHigh

There are these single notes at the end of lines, which I find I have a tendency to hit too hard instead of letting the phrase taper off.

Well, as I like to maintain, hymns are made for the common people, they are not supposed to be perfect. You just have to try.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 33 and join with the clarinets in “All Hail to Thee, O Blessed Morn”.

Meter: Irregular
Tempo: With movemement
Music: Phillipp Nicolai, 1556-1608
Text: Johann Olof Wallin, 1779-1839
Based on the German Hymn of 1621
Tr. Ernst William Olson, 1870-1958

Here’s the pdf of my clarinet arrangement:033.ServiceBookAndHymnal

You’ll probably notice, aside from them both having the word “morn” in the title, the music to this hymn is exactly the same as number 32, “Rejoice, Rejoice This Happy Morn“. So when I was approaching it, I wanted to think of something else interesting to do with the music, so I didn’t play the exact same thing all over again. This time, I decided to slow it waaaaay down, and play quietly.

I skipped the bass clarinet and played the “bass part” on soprano clarinet, up an octave.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Please turn to number 32 and join with the clarinets in, “Rejoice, Rejoice This Happy Morn.”

Meter: Irregular.
Tempo: With movement
Music: Phillipp Nicolai, 1556-1608
Text: Birgitte Cathrine Boye, 1742-1824
Tr. Carl Doving, 1867-1937

Like our previous Phillipp Nicolai Hymn, “Wake, Awake“, I find the harmonies in “Rejoice, Rejoice This Happy Morn” very powerful. This is one of several hymns which use this melody, the most famous of which is the original, number 404, “How Brightly Beams the Morning Star”.

Here’s the clarinet arrangement: 032.ServiceBookAndHymnal

I doubled each part and applied the usual tweaked audacity “Church Hall” reverb effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal


Open your hymnals to number 31 and join with the clarinets in “Angels, From the Realms of Glory”.

Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 8 7.
Tempo: Moderately slow, with dignity
Music: Henry Smart, 1813-79
Text: James Montgomery, 1771-1854

This hymn does seem super familiar, even though, for me, it isn’t one of the REALLY well known Christmas Hymns.

From the wikipedia article:

“Angels from the Realms of Glory” is a Christmas carol written by Scottish poet James Montgomery.[1] It was first printed in the Sheffield Iris on Christmas Eve 1816, though it only began to be sung in churches after its 1825 reprinting in the Montgomery collection The Christian Psalmist and in the Religious Tract Society’s The Christmas Box or New Year’s Gift.[1]

Before 1928, the hymn was sung to a variety of tunes, including “Regent Square”, “Lewes” by John Randall, and “Wildersmouth” or “Feniton Court” by Edward Hopkins.[1] In the United States, the hymn is today most commonly sung to the tune of “Regent Square” by Henry Smart.[1] In the United Kingdom, however, the hymn came to be sung to the French carol tune “Iris”[2] (Les anges dans nos campagnes, the tune used for “Angels We Have Heard on High”) after this setting was published in the Oxford Book of Carols.[1] Sometimes the “Gloria in excelsis Deo” refrain is sung in place of Montgomery’s original lyric: “Come and worship Christ the new-born King”. On A Christmas Cornucopia, Annie Lennox sings this song but substitutes “Gloria in excelsis Deo” for the “Come and worship Christ the new-born King” refrain. Paul Poulton recorded a rock version of this song on his Grooves 4 Scrooge album.

Annie Lenox, who knew?

PDF of the clarinet arrangement: 031.ServiceBookAndHymnal

Doubled all the parts and applied the usual tweaked Audacity “church hall” Reverb effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal