Please turn your hymnals to number 27 and join with the clarinets in “O Little Town of Bethlehem (First Tune)”.
Name: ST. LOUIS (REDNER).
Meter: 8 6, 8 6, 7 6, 8 6.
Music: Lewis Henry Redner, 1831-1908
Text: Phillips Brooks, 1835-93
It is a beautiful hymn.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
The first time I got to playing this, it was really late in the evening. Somehow I ended up playing it through very quickly and was experimenting with a certain attack on the notes. Turned out kind of cool, even though it wasn’t what I was thinking for the actual hymn.
After experimenting with that track for a couple days, I went back and redid it more traditionally.
From the wikipedia article regarding “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”:
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a Christmas carol that first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and Sacred Poems, having been written by Charles Wesley. Wesley had requested and received slow and solemn music for his lyrics, not the joyful tune expected today.
There were some alternate melodies, so I actually ended up with 1 Clarinet playing the “soprano” part, 2 Clarinets doing the “alto” parts, 1 Clarinet playing the “tenor” part, and 2 Bass clarinets doing the “bass” parts in the final recording. Total of 6 clarinet parts. I’ve been tweaking the Audacity “Church” Reverb effect presets so that it has less effect on the levels of the tune.
Please turn your Service Book and Hymnal to number 24 and join with the clarinets in “While Shepherd’s Watched Their Flocks by Night”.
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!’
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.
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.
Please turn your hymnals to number 21 and join with the clarinets in “All Praise to Thee” aka “Tallis’ Canon”.
Name: TALLIS’ CANON.
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.
Please turn your hymnals to number 20 (Second Tune) and join with the clarinets in “From East to West”.
Name: CHRISTUM WIR SOLLEN LOBEN SCHON
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.
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.
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!