Richard Lambert Music

Hymn tune descants and alternative harmonisations (Op.47)

A collection of descants to well-known hymns, with optional added alternative harmonisations

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Lord, thy word abideth (Op.47 No.1)

F major. Tune: Ravenshaw 6 6 6 6 German Medieval Melody; words by Sir HW Baker

Lord, thy word abideth has a straightforward vocal descant (range F–G'') and a chromatic alternative organ/choral harmonisation.

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Ye that know the Lord is gracious (Op.47 No.2)

F major. Tune: Hyfrodol 8 7 8 7 by R.H. Prichard 1811-87; words by CA Alington

Ye that know the Lord is gracious has a stirring descant and an optional elaboration for trumpet. The descant (range G–A'') may be used as printed – ie the sopranos/trebles singing simultaneously with the trumpet elaboration during the last verse of the hymn. Alternatively, the trumpet could play the (vocal) descant line during the penultimate verse, as a prelude to playing the elaboration in the final verse. The hymn Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (words by W Chatterton Dix, see Ancient & Modern Revised no.399) may be used as an alternative. There is no alternative harmonisation provided here.

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Oft in danger, oft in woe (Op.47 No.3)

F major. Tune: University College 7 7 7 7 by HJ Gauntlett 1805-76; words by H Kirke White and others

The descant is straightforward, and ranges from F–A''. There is an alternative harmonisation, intended for organ use but feasible for a competent choir.

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O thou who camest from above (Op.47 No.4)

F major. Tune: Hereford LM by SS Wesley 1810-76; words by C Wesley

The descant is straightforward (ranging from F–A'') and there is an alternative harmonisation for organ.

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O praise ye the Lord (Op.47 No.5)

B flat major. Tune: Laudate Dominum 10 10 11 11 by Sir Hubert Parry 1848-1918; words by Sir HW Baker

The descant (for the final verse) is suitably stirring, with octave leaps and rising scalic figures in keeping with the noble sentiment of this hymn. The alternative harmonisation (for verse 3) is suitable for both organ and choir: its gentle chromaticism creates a more restrained mood, but it also uses rising scales, in the bass, to maintain something of the fervent atmosphere.

Performances

  1. 19 July 2013 at St Barnabas Church, Kensington, London UK. St Barnabas and St Philip’s CE Primary school Leavers’ Service, director Louisa Roberts Lynagh

Reviews

The descant went very well indeed. Our new line-up Senior Singers (23 Year 4 and 5 pupils) supported the rest of the school with all the singing throughout the service. O Praise Ye The Lord was the concluding hymn right at the end of the service and parents and staff thought the singing was excellent – the overall effect with the descant and organ was stunning.

Louisa Roberts Lynagh

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Let us with a gladsome mind (Op.47 No.6)

C major. Tune: Monkland 7 7 7 7 by J Wilkes 1785-1869, adapted from J Lee’s Hymn Tunes of the United Brethren, 1824; words by John Milton

The straightforward descant is intended for the final, seventh verse, and there is an an alternative organ harmonisation suitable for, perhaps, verse 5. It is more elaborate than the original, modulating freely, and hovering initially around A minor, the relative minor key. This music can also be used for the hymn Praise, O praise our God and King (words by Sir HW Baker, see Ancient & Modern Revised no. 481 where the alternative harmonisation might be used in verse 3 or 4, and the descant on the final, eighth verse.

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Thy hand, O God, has guided (Op.47 No.7)

D major. Tune: Thornbury 7 6 7 6 D by B Harwood,1859-1949; words by EH Plumptre

Thy hand, O God, has guided has a stirring descant and a contrapuntal elaboration for trumpet. The descant may be used as printed – ie voices singing simultaneously with the optional trumpet elaboration (during verse 6). Alternatively, the trumpet could play the vocal descant line during verse 5, as a prelude to playing the elaboration for verse 6. If preferred, the organist could use the original Harwood version, which has alternative harmony for verses 3 and 5 – this would also fit the above vocal descant.

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The Church's one foundation (Op.47 No.8)

E flat major. Tune: Aurelia 7 6 7 6 D by SS Wesley 1810-76; words by SJ Stone

A lyrically shaped descant is given here for the final, fifth verse. A chromatic alternative harmonisation, commencing in C minor, is offered, preferably for verse 4 to suit the prevailing words. Although intended for organ use with unison verse, it could well be employed by a more competent church choir.

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All people that on earth do dwell (Op.47 No.9)

 

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Good Christian men, rejoice and sing! (Op.47 No.10)

C major. Tune: ‘Gelobt sei Gott’ 888 with Alleluias by M.Vulpius, Gesangbuch 1609 harmonised by F.Layriz, 1844

This is a stirring, ethereal descant with some melismatic writing. Range G–A''.

The alternative harmony is chromatic, with a rich, minor flavour. The abundant use of descending passing notes borrows from a bass line in the original.

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Teach me, my God and King (Op.47 No.11)

D major. Tune: Sandys S.M. from Sandys’ Christmas Carols, 1833; words by George Herbert (1593-1632)

The straightforward descant is intended for the final, fifth verse, and there is an alternative organ harmonisation suitable for either verses 3 or 4.

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Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Op.47 No.12)

A flat major. Tune: Blaenwern 8.7.8.7.D by William P Rowlands (1860-1937); words by Charles Wesley (1707-88)

The descant (for verse 3) has an octave range from Ab’ to Ab”, and is suitably ethereal and stirring with several lofty top A flats. It is suggested that verse 2 is sung in unison, whilst the organ provides the alternative harmonisation. This has a chromatic, walking bass with several cadential minor key modulatory excursions

Purchase

You can view and purchase the score of Love Divine, All Loves Excelling from Score Exchange.

If you wish to listen to the piece on that website, select the ‘MP3 file’ link instead of playing the embedded score for better audio quality.

Performances

  1. 16 August 2014 at the wedding of Francesca and James, St Andrew's Church, Lyddington, Rutland UK
  2. 3 May 2015 at St John the Baptist, Harringworth, Northants UK

O God, our help in ages past (Op.47 No.13)

C major. Tune: St.Anne C.M. 86.86 attrib. William Croft 1708; words by I.Watts (1674-1748)

The descant (for verse 6) has a range from G’-A’’. It is suggested that either verse 3 or verse 4 is sung in unison whilst the organ plays the alternative harmonisation. This has chromatic modulation and infilled passing notes to vary the texture of the original.

Performances

Purchase

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Come down, O Love divine (Op.47 No.14)

A major. Tune: North Petherton 6 6 11. 6 6 11 by W.H.Harris (1883-1973); words by Bianco da Siena (d.1434) tr. R.F.Littledale

The descant (for verse 4) has a range from E’-A’’ and will suit a competent choir capable of soaring G#s/A. It is suggested that verse 3 is sung in unison whilst the organ plays the alternative harmonisation. This has a colourful minor mode flavour before returning to the major key, ready for an uplifting final verse with the ethereal descant.

Purchase

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Thou, whose almighty word (Op.47 No.15)

G major. Tune: Moscow 6 6 4. 6 6 6 4. by F Giardini (1716-1796), words by J Marriott (1780-1825)

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Performances


All hail the power of Jesus' name (Op.47 No.16)

Bb major. Tune: Diadem (CM) by James Ellor (1819-1899),  words by Edward Perronet (1726-1792)

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Performances


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These recordings of Hymn tune descants and alternative harmonisations were produced using computer software called Sibelius: they are not live recordings.