Please turn to number 49 and join with the clarinets in singing, “Thy Little Ones”.
First Line: Thy Little Ones
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.”
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.
Please turn to number 46 and join with the clarinets in “Christmas Brings Joy”.
First Line: Christmas Brings Joy
Name: CHRISTMAS BRINGS JOY.
Meter: 8 7, 9 7, 8 7, 8 7.
Music: C. E. F. Weyse, 1774-1842
Text: Bernhardt Severin Ingemann, 1789-1862
Tr. Cecil Cowdrey
Another fine hymn which suggests to small children that they should behave, especially at Christmas.
Christmas brings joy to every heart,
Sets old and young rejoicing,
What angels sang once to all on earth,
Oh, hear the children voicing.
Bright is the tree with lights aglow,
Like birds that perch together.
The child that holdeth Christmas dear
Shall keep these joys forever.
Joy comes to all the world today,
To halls and cottage hasting.
Come, sparrow and dove, from roof tree tall,
And share our Christmas feasting.
Dance, little child, on mother’s knee,
The lovely day is dawning;
The road to paradise is found
This blessed Christmas morning.
Once to this earth our Savior came,
An infant poor and lowly,
To open for us those gardens fair
Where dwell his angels holy.
Christmas joy he bringeth us,
To Christ-child King of heaven,
‘To every little child,’ he saith,
‘Shall angel wings be given.’
I’m joking a bit, there are some really nice, vivid, turns of phrase here. I especially like, “Dance, little child, on mother’s knee, the lovely day is dawning.”
Please turn to number 43 and join with the clarinets in “Under Feeble Stable Light”.
Name: HOLY MANGER
Meter: 8 8, 9 9, 8 8.
Tempo: Tenderly, in unison
Music: Arnold F. Keller, 1890-
Music composed for this book
Text:Arnold Frederick Keller, 1890-
Under feeble stable light,
Come and behold the wondrous sight!
Lies here a babe so heavenly sweet,
Mother and angels the Infant Keep.
Angels on wing, What do they sing?
‘Glory to God, the Saviour, King!’
I can’t say I think much of Mr Keller’s skills as a lyricist, but the tune and harmonies of this hymn are pretty cool. One of the more modern settings I’ve run across in the book so far, short of the Holst piece.
First I transcribe the SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) hymn from the hymnal to a program called MuseScore.
Using MuseScore, I transpose the parts from SATB to the 4 clarinet parts.
I count the measures and generate a click track for the hymn in Audacity, so I can keep in sync with myself.
At this point I play through the parts with only Soprano Clarinet, top to bottom, to get a rough idea of the melody and feel of the hymn. Also, if there are any serious technical challenges.
After the initial recording, I usually let myself think about it for a day, or at least a period of hours, letting ideas about phrasing and tempo percolate.
I start with the bass clarinet part and build the hymn from the bottom up, finishing with the Melody/Soprano part. Lately, I’ve been playing through the hymns at least twice.
I mix these parts, panning them to different points in the left sound field.
Then I repeat, starting again from the Bass Part and mix them to percentage pans of the right sound field.
Finally, I tweak the mix, remove the click track, apply an Audacity reverb effect, and export the parts to mp3 and wav.
On to the next hymn!
The whole process probably takes 4 hours per hymn, more or less, depending on the complexity and length.
After finishing the first rough recording of Number 43, “Once in Royal David’s City”, I had an impulse to mess around a bit with Audacity Effects on that track.
I’d been reading about creating distortion effects, using the Leveller and Compression effects, so I started there.
At this point, I was kind of thinking it sounded pretty synth-esque, so I applied some more effects to increase the plasticity.
It was now pretty cool, sounding a bit like the Stranger Things sound track, but there was something that I was thinking. It sort of had the character of the music I associate with Nintendo games, but it needed to be faster.
Change Speed 2x
Ah, yes, now that brings a smile to my face.
Ahem, and now, with “Once in Royal David’s City”, we return you to your regularly scheduled Lutheran Hymns played on clarinets.
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 77.
Tempo: Slowly. May be sung in unison.
Music: Henry J. Gauntlett, 1805-76
Text: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1823-95
The music is a bit folky, but the text of this hymn is not a super-awesome, I especially like how in verse three Alexander slips in some suggestions for how Christian children should behave.
“And through all his wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as he.
Perhaps he was going through some tough times at home.
Please turn to number 40 and join with the clarinets in “The First Noel”.
Name: THE FIRST NOWELL.
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 EnglishChristmas carol, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier.Noel is an Early Modern Englishsynonym of “Christmas“.
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. 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.
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?
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.