Instrumentation 3333 4231 timp+3 harp strings
Duration 11'30"
Musical Excerpt:

Music player

Shape-Note Fantasy is a free re-imagining of five hymn-tunes from the American colonial period.  The term “shape-note” refers to a system of notation used by the colonial composers, a system in which each note of the scale was represented by a different shape —a triangle for C, a square for D, a diamond for E, etc.  In terms of musical influence, the American colonial composers were isolated from European developments, and their hymns developed a unique style of lively counterpoint and modal harmonies.  The five hymns quoted in this piece use texts by Isaac Watts, whose free translations of the Psalms were widely used for hymns in 18th-century America.  In Shape-Note Fantasy, the musical treatment of each hymn-tune evokes the character of the original text.
I. Ballstown
Great God, attend while Zion sings
The joy that from thy presence springs:
To spend one day with thee on earth,
Exceeds a thousand days of mirth.
II. Evening Shade
The day is past and gone,
The evening shades appear;
O may we all remember well,
The night of death is near.
III. Immensity
Within thy circling pow’r I stand
On ev’ry side I find thy hand;
Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
I am surrounded still with God.
IV. Garden
God from His cloudy cistern pours
On the parch’d earth enriching show’rs;
The grove, the garden, and the field,
A thousand joyful blessings yield.
V. Marlborough
O for a shout of sacred joy,
To God the sov’reign King;
Let ev’ry land their tongues employ,
And hymns of triumph sing.