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
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.