Anthem 19 – Ascendit Deus

sunlight with white clouds

Welcome to Anthem 19 in my attempt to write a new choir anthem every week for a year. I’m Kevin Mulryne and I hope you will enjoy listening to my progress throughout 2024. Please do visit the website Anthem52.com, follow along on x.com – @realanthem52 or Instagram – @realanthem52 and send me a message to show@anthem52.com.

It’s Ascension Day this week. At Holy Trinity Church, the choir used to ascend the very dusty, cobwebby spiral staircase in the far South West corner after the Ascension morning service to sing on the roof of the Nave. I think it was the only time in the year that staircase was ever used except for maintenance I suppose. It goes without saying that I’m talking about an activity that ceased sometime in the 1980s when health and safety started being taken a little more seriously. The lead roof we strolled about on was sloped towards the precipice and it was surprising no choisters ever fell off. Nowadays, only the Vicar climbs up onto the roof – and it’s the much lower – and safer – North Porch roof which is used. Still, it’s fun to see and hear him up there.

To fit in with the occasion, I decided to write an anthem this week with an appropriate text, in Latin.

Here are the words:


Words for Anthem 19:

Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae.
Dedit dona hominibus.
Alleluia.
Dominus in caelo paravit sedem suam.
Alleluia.

Translation:

Ps. 47:5 God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
He gave gifts to men.
Alleluia.
Ps. 103:19a The Lord hath prepared his seat in heaven.
Alleluia.

https://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Ascendit_Deus_in_jubilatione

The first part is from Psalm 46 and the second from Psalm 102. The introductory organ part was assembled fairly randomly. I knew I wanted some off-beat chords to begin with and then the melody of the opening choral section was heavily suggested by the organ part. I’ve employed my ‘organ and choir echo passages’ technique quite a bit in this anthem and I wondered what would happen if I tried to evoke the ascension theme in the key structure. So I started in B flat major, then shoved it all up to C major, followed by D major and E major. These changes are abrupt and seem to work well, I think. They do produce ‘an effect’, whether it sounds like the music is ascending or not is up to you. After the E major passage it seemed necessary to go to A major and finally back to D major to finish off the piece.

The vocal melody is quite catchy and it’s been stuck in my head a lot this week so watch out for that. I’m not sure it’s a very exciting anthem but it’s one which works and is easily manageable by most choirs.

Anyway, see what you think:

Well, what do you think? Let me know on X.com @realanthem52, Instagram @realanthem52, as a comment below or via email show@anthem52.com

I hope you will join me next week for a new episode (perhaps featuring my second interview – will I ever record another?) – and a new anthem – only 34 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?


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