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A Joyful Symphony

SATB, treble chorus (SA), Organ–5′

A Palm Sunday piece that combines a treble choir with adult voices to convey the dual nature of the holiday. Preview score and listen at Canticle web site.

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SKU: No. 6587 (ECS) Categories: , ,

Description

A Joyful Symphony (2004)

Anthem for Palm Sunday

SATB, treble chorus (SA), organ
5′ duration
Text: Henry Vaughan (1621-1695), from “Palm Sunday.”
Commissioned by the American Composers Forum through the Faith Partners Program.
Premiere—2003, by the Westminster Presbyterian Church Sanctuary Choir, Jere Lantz, conductor, Minneapolis, MN.
Published by ECS. Distributed by Canticle.


Performance recommendations

  • m. 11: change tenor and bass to: 
  • m. 79 Soprano 2 may sing E-flat2 instead of high B-flat.
  • The indicated meter is alla breve, but note the metronome marking. Not too fast!

Program Note

From 2003-2005, I participated in an American Composers Forum Faith Partners residency which paired Westminster Presbyterian Church (Minneapolis) with the Cathedral of Saint Paul. When Westminster asked for an anthem which their children’s choir could sing with the adult choir on Palm Sunday, two memories sprang to mind: singing “hosanna” with abandon as a little soprano myself, and seeing a glowingly bald conductor turn and throw a long-bomb cue to the children in the St. Matthew Passion.

The dual nature of Palm Sunday can make for awkward programming. No sooner does one celebrate the triumphant passage of Jesus into Jerusalem than it is time to plunge into the darkness of Holy Week. Particularly in Protestant churches, which tend to de-emphasize the Passion in favor of the Resurrection, Palm Sunday can be a bi-polar affair—first fronds up, then heads down.

In Henry Vaughan’s poem “Palm Sunday” there is majesty, mirth and a foreshadowing of things to come. A Joyful Symphony, a symphony only in the Baroque sense, takes its title from that poem’s last line, but it is also a complement to my anthem, An Echoing Song (which takes its title similarly). Echoing is about questioning and opening up, Joyful about affirmation and closure.


Text

Original:

Come drop your branches, strow the way
Plants of the day!
Whom sufferings make most green and gay.

The King of grief, the man of sorrow
Weeping still, like the wet morrow,
Your shades and freshness comes to borrow.

Put on, put on your best array;
Let the joy’d rode make holy-day,
And flowers that into fields do stray,
Or secret groves, keep the high-way.

Trees, flowers and herbs; birds, beasts and stones,
Lift up your heads and leave your moans!
For here come he
Whose death will be
Mans life, and your full liberty.

I’le get me up before the Sun,
I’le cut me boughs off many a tree,
And all alone full early run
To gather flowers to wellcome thee.

Hark! how the children shril and high
Hosanna cry,
Their joys provoke the distant skie,
Where thrones and Seraphins reply,

And their own Angels shine and sing
In a bright ring:
Such yong, sweet mirth
Makes heaven and earth
Joyn in a joyful Symphony.

Modernized:

Come drop your branches, strow the way
Plants of the day!
Whom sufferings make most green and gay.

The King of grief, the man of sorrow
Weeping still, like the wet morrow,
Your shades and freshness comes to borrow.

Put on, put on your best array;
Let the joy’d road make holy-day,
And flowers that into fields do stray,
Or secret groves, keep the highway.

Trees, flowers and herbs; birds, beasts and stones,
Lift up your heads and leave your moans!
For here come he
Whose death will be
Man’s life, and your full liberty.

I’ll get me up before the Sun,
I’ll cut me boughs off many a tree,
And all alone full early run
To gather flowers to welcome thee.

Hark! how the children shrill and high
Hosanna cry,
Their joys provoke the distant sky,
Where thrones and Seraphins reply,

And their own Angels shine and sing
In a bright ring:
Such young, sweet mirth
Makes heaven and earth
Join in a joyful Symphony.

 

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