Please turn to number 57 and join with the clarinets in, “Bright and Glorious is the Sky.”
First Line: Bright and Gloriuos is the Sky
Meter: 7 7, 8 8, 7 7.
Music: Danish Melody
Text: Nikolai F. S. Gruntvig, 1783-1872
Hymnal Version, 1955
The first sections of hymns in this version of the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal are arranged by the major events during the year, in the order they occur.
ADVENT: Nov 30 – December 21. Days and events leading up to the celebrated day of the birth of Christ.
CHRISTMAS: December 25 – January 1. The celebrated birth of Christ.
EPIPHANY: January 6 – February 24. The revelation of the birth of Christ to the Three Kings and the world.
LENT: 40 days leading up to Easter. Days and events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ.
EASTER: March 25 – May 1. Christ rises from the dead.
PENTECOST: June 24 – November 1. Events after Easter, when the holy spirit descended on the apostles and they took up his word to reveal it to the world.
This is the last hymn of the Epiphany season and its melody is a Danish folk song of some sort.
Please turn to number 56 and join with the clarinets in, “O One with God the Father.”
Meter: 7 6, 7 6. D.
Tempo: With movement
Music: Berthold Tours, 1828-97
Text: William Walsham how, 1823-97
A fairly generic hymn, perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the phrasing, which is evenly divided into 8 beats each phrase. Yet somehow, the way the notes and measures are divided makes it seem almost syncopated.
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
Name: ST. LEONARD.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.