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Join All The Glorious Names

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  • #2425

    I’ve recently set out to write some more hymn tunes again, after spending a lot of my composition time recently doing choral pieces. One of my goals going into this was to create a setting that would be musically interesting, while also having enough strength in its form and signature musical ideas to feel coherent.

    “Join All The Glorious Names” is a text that I came across recently and appreciated so I decided to set it. It’s an old text (from a larger hymn by Watts), but I thought it would be fun to breath new life into it with a more contemporary hymn style.

    I’d love to hear if anyone has any critique to share. Also, I included two versions. The only change between the two is the way the time is notated with the switch to 2/2 at the end. I’m trying to decide which direction to go. I think both are viable options and have their pros and cons, but I thought there’s a good chance some of you here are also song leaders so it might be a good place to ask which version feels most intuitive.

  • #2436

    Hi Lyndon,

    Great work! I love the mood of this piece, and the moment on the downbeat of m. 10 just kind of melts my heart.

    I dont have much to say, but the first line took me a little bit to get used to. something about the rhythm on “the glorious names” felt a little strange to me. as I got more familiar with it, it kept feeling better. I wonder if will be fixed when it is sung, because I get a little confused about where the strong beat is. with the half note followed by the dotted-half, my ear has some trouble knowing what to do with the three quarter notes. when i conducted it and sang it in my head it felt a lot better though. one thing that you could consider here is to change the first downbeat to a half-note as well as the first quarter note. this could help to even out the rhythm and establish a sense of the meter more smoothly, but could also make it more boring. another thing that I thought of was the jump from four parts to unison feels just a bit of a let-down to me. I don’t know how it would sound if you would start the song in unison to avoid that… the second time did not bother me as much. I did not try any of these ideas out myself, so take them or leave them. I think this is a really great hymn. Good work, Lyndon!

  • #2440

    Thanks Ben for the kind words and also for the thoughts. I’m definitely going to think over them a little here. I want to workshop this hymn with some real live humans at some point so those will be some points I’ll try!

  • #2444

    Hi Lyndon,

    I echo the “good work” sentiment from Ben. My sense is that generally the voice leading works well, and I enjoy the tonal shifting. I’m asking myself how this will play with singers. My own sense is that congregationally it will be a stretch; it has a more choral sound to me. As Ben mentioned, the sense of meter is a bit unstable — which adds interest but makes it more difficult to sing. It has a similar tonal ambiguity, which again will make it tougher to access for the average congregation. I think that is particularly true on the last system, where the key ambiguity barely gets resolved (to my ear) by the cadence. This is particularly true, I suppose, with the soprano ending on the dominant. My hunch is that have significant ambiguity in both the meter and the key will be a hurdle for singers.

    I agree with you about getting it in front of singers, and see how it actually works for them. It might settle in more quickly than I think.

  • #2454

    Lynn Martin

    This is a fun tune, Lyndon. As a song leader, I believe I’d find v1 easier, since the measures follow the musical pattern more closely. I like that it shifts keys and timings, as though it’s traveling through a musical landscape. But of course that will make it harder to learn.

    In the case of the unison, I agree that something feels a little odd. Starting out in unison, or going back to parts on “names” would feel a little more balanced to me. But that could be just me.

    I would guess that singers will find measures 5 and 6 a challenge, but not too hard. The last line will likely be harder. Sopranos may need to be able to hear the fa-te leap before they can sing it, and the re-do-la-sol-re-sol will probably be the toughest for them to get. I find it a bit unintuitive, though I really like how it opens up into the tonic at the end without any soprano movement. Love it!

    The other parts won’t have nearly as much challenge throughout the song, and will probably enjoy their parts without being overwhelmed. A good congregation should be able to get this with some practice.

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