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English: The Choir Singing in St. Mark`s Basil...

The Choir Singing in St. Mark`s Basilica (Venice) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My unpaid church choir outdid themselves last Sunday!  Due to absences for various reasons, we were 5 members strong.

Yes, “strong,” because they went with the situation.

The anthem was “Heavenly Father,” arr. Hal Wright.  At first glance, I had a problem with the arrangement.  The piece is scored in ¾ time, but “Heavenly Father” is sung on the last three 8th notes of the bar in every case.  So the accent is on the 2nd syllable, which is not the way anyone says the word.

After playing and singing the piece several times, I realized that the 1st syllable of “heavenly” sounds accented regardless.  The open vowel, followed by a schwa in the 2nd syllable, takes care of the problem.

So, given the choir had sung the piece before, I decided to go ahead.

The overall impression of the piece is one of prayer.  With 5 people, that turned out to be a good choice.  Singing rather softly, everyone listened to each other.

Results

Everyone’s voices blended very well.

There was excellent balance between the parts.

The congregation spontaneously said, “Amen!” when we came to the end.

Final hymn

We sang “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”  I am accustomed to using the same text with a different tune (of which there are several).  But everyone else knew the setting we were using quite well.

There is a wonderful bass line near the end.  During choir rehearsal, we warm up by running at least one verse of the hymns for the service that day.  I wanted to find out whether the basses knew their line at the end.

They not only knew it, they let it all hang out.  So during the service, more basses got into it, and everyone was singing out already.  It sounded great!

 Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Review by pianist Robert W. Oliver

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