A Carol Prelude

Duration: 3’30”
Description: I tried to write this piece in 2002, beginning with a setting of God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, but the piece didn;t go any farther. I wanted a medley of a few familiar tunes, but it was easier to just pick some out of the hymnal and improvise, rather than write the music down. This year I revisited my earlier work, and added on a bit.

The piece now begins with a short intro based on the refrain of Gloria (see also A Christmas Toccata, which is a working out of this same material–before I wrote Carol Prelude). Following the intro, the piece presents O Come, All Ye Faithful, in a bright, rhythmic setting.

This leads, with a hint of the intro, right into the earlier, unfinished setting of Gentlemen…with a difference. There’s now a canon in the manuals over a slow-moving pedal line (based on portions of O Come, All Ye Faithful, here presented modally). This section has its own introductory material (probably due to its earlier existence as an ostensibly stand-alone movement) which also recurs at the end to help the transition to Joy to the World.

As this final section begins, introductory material based on Joy allows time for building up the registration. The tune comes in in the left hand with a solo reed or other strong registration. A tonic pedal point is occasionally embellished with scalar passages, but always returns home. The right hand also sports a tonic pedal point as well as a faster moving line that often has a flat 7th degree. This undermines the tonic, suggesting it might be a dominant 7th, except that the pedal points keep coming back. For you theoretical types, the flat 7th was formerly the tonic of the preceding two sections.

The piece closes out with a return to the opening introductory material, interrupted by playful citations of the beginning of Angels We Have Heard on High and the refrain of Joy To The World (both begin the same).A couple of attempts to close out Joy to the World bring the work to a rousing close.

Dynamically the piece is in aba form (loud, soft, loud). Reasonably strong pedal work is required, particularly in the center section, where the pedal maintains two slow-moving lines simultaneously. It’s tempting to think about writing a couple of companion movements…

Christ is Risen

Duration: 3 minutes
Description: A hymn medley of five Easter hymns. Since the churches I have served recently have spent little time with Easter music (the Easter season gets truncated down to a week or two) this is a favorite with congregations hungry for the familiar Easter tunes they know and love.

Comments are closed.