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West Gallery workshop material

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Those new to West Gallery music often have difficulty fitting the text to the music in the strophic settings; that is to say, the metrical psalm, hymn and carol settings which form a substantial part of the repertoire. It is quite hard to do this even for the plain tunes, which have no repetition or split lines. But in the more florid settings many newcomers to the genre are put off by the difficulties of text underlay.

It is often asked why editors do not underlay all the verses in all the parts, to avoid this difficulty. There are two reasons for their reluctance to do so. Firstly, when there are many verses, underlaying them all can spread out the page so much that one difficulty is replaced by another, as singers struggle to find where their part is. Secondly, doing so can cause more page turns, which are inconvenient enough for singers, but present even greater difficulties for the instrumentlists who often accompany West Gallery music.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century church musicians were often confronted with text in one book and music in another, often a single part, and with the minimum of guidance to help with underlay. Because they seem to have managed, many experienced West Gallery singers feel that they should cope in the same way, and learn to do so. But for beginners in the genre, some extra help may be needed.

The twelve settings listed below have been edited so as to minimise the difficulties for new singers. There are six versions of each setting; one for each of soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices. These versions have the main voice part on a large stave, with all verses underlaid, and show the other three voices without text or expression marks on small staves, to help keep the place when all the voices do not sing together. Fifthly there is a leader's full score, with keyboard accompaniment reduced from the voice parts on small staves added below. And sixthly there is a transposed B flat part for clarinets, trumpets and other instruments which use this transposition.

Some West Gallery purists have suggested that keyboard accompaniment is inappropriate. There are two good reasons for ignoring this objection. Firstly, there is well documented evidence that in the West Gallery period, although most churches had no keyboard accompaniment available, when it was available, it was used. And secondly, if West Gallery music is to take its rightful place in the repertoires of modern church and secular choirs, then the use of keyboards is unavoidable, regardless of what may have happened two centuries ago.

All these scores may be freely downloaded and copied for any non-profit-making use. Many other pieces on this site have tenor-led settings re-edited with the air in the soprano, and more scores with fully underlaid text.

For each of the twelve settings listed, click on S, A, T, B to view, hear and download the soprano, alto, tenor or bass versions respectively from a Sibelius Scorch file. You can if you wish transpose the file up or down into a new key; click on the B flat key signature on the tool bar and follow the on-screen instructions. Click on KS for a Scorch file with added keyboard accompaniment.

If you are new to Sibelius Scorch or have any trouble with these files please look at the relevant page of Questions and Answers for more information. K will give you the conductor's score with keyboard accompaniment, and Bb the transposed version. These settings are listed separately from the main Numerical List. Some are duplicated there. For the traditional version of these settings, i.e. four part vocal score, click on the number under RM.

 
 
#RMTitleTextTuneComposer
165 The Lord looked down from heaven's high towerPs 53 NVDevizesIsaac Tucker S A T B K Bb
2-- The memory of his glorious namePs 72 NVNehemiahWilliam Arnold S A T B K Bb
3-- O God, my heart is fixed, 'tis bentPs 57 NVLynnUriah Davenport S A T B K Bb
4-- Arise and hail the joyful dayCarol--Anon. S A T B K Bb
5-- O thou, to whom all creatures bowPs 8 NVOtfordAnon. (1749) S A T B K Bb
6-- Shepherds, rejoiceSamuel MedleyLynghamThomas Jarman S A T B K Bb
7-- O for a shout of sacred joyIsaac WattsBelvedereG. Titlar S A T B K Bb
836 Grace, 'tis a charming soundPhilip DoddridgeCranbrookThomas Clark S A T B K Bb
97 My soul and spirit, filled with joyMagnificat NVPentonvilleWilliam Marsh S A T B K Bb
101 Lord, let thy servant now departNunc Dimittis NVRinetonAnon. (1717) S A T B K Bb
11-- They that in ships, with courage boldPs 107 NVNew Poole?William Knapp S A T B K Bb
12--All laud and praise, with heart and voice Ps 30 JHPs 30Matthew Cooke S A T B K Bb

 

Abbreviations

NVNew Version of the Metrical Psalms (Tate and Brady)
JHJohn Hopkins
PsPsalm
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