Sep 232016


“There is a green hill far away…”

If ever there was a phrase designed to evoke images in the mind of a child, it’s that one. I think the author, Cecil Frances Alexander, intended it to be so since it was first published in her work, “Hymns for Little Children”.

It certainly evoked images for me, though the “green hill” of my imagination was nothing like the reality. Still, it served the purpose and helped my wandering mind to remember Jesus during the Sacrament.

As an adult, it’s still my favorite of the hymns we use for our Sacrament services. (I’m apparently not alone, since it has now been published in many hundreds of hymnals worldwide.) It’s the hymn I turn to most often to keep my mind focused on the sacrifice of our Savior and his love for me.

The version in our hymn book contains four verses. The author penned five. The omitted verse is beautiful, but the meter makes it awkward (though not impossible) to include in a hymn setting:

He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

For this version of “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” I have set the four commonly-used verses to a new tune that’s been pestering me for… oh… ten years or so. It gets a bit embarrassing to sift through my old to-do lists and see the same entry transferred over that many times. On the other hand, somehow it feels like a bigger accomplishment when I finally get to cross it off! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a recording of the solo version, featuring Tj Pini on vocals and Jana Hanni on violin:

There is also an SATB version available.

You’ll notice that I altered verse three just a smidge. Which is a thing I forbid people to do with my own lyrics. Which seems a bit cheeky. Oh well, when my lyrics enter the public domain, you may alter them with impugnity. I promise not to haunt you.

Next up: another new Christmas song.

Sep 042016

Awhile back the Mormon Tabernacle Choir produced a new recording of the Hallelujah! chorus from The Messiah. They included over 2000 … count ’em… 2000 voices from all over the world. And it’s perfect.

I’m thinking the MoTab had some automated way to combine all those voices. If they had done it the way I did the recording for this song, an army of sound engineers would still be messing with individual tracks in 3096.

The demo track for this selection includes 10… count ’em… 10 voices, mostly from my little town. And it’s NOT perfect, but it will give you an example of how the song sounds. We kept the rhythm pretty straight for this, since each voice had to sing alone. In performance I’d recommend a little more give in strategic places.

Like I said, it’s not perfect, but in our defense, we weren’t starting with the MoTab as a base. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Baby JesusBy the way, I’m not doing another one of these. Nope. Nu-uh. No way. (She says. And at this moment she means it.)

In a Manger Bed” is voiced for SATB choir with optional, extremely simple bells.

It will be pretty easy to learn (it was for the “choir”…hey, a couple of them were sight-reading… ahem… ), though there are a couple of tricky entrances that you’ll want to practice-repeat-practice-repeat until it clicks. There is a second soprano part that lasts all of two notes, and may be omitted.

Only 112 days until Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚