Anthem 20 – The Lord is King

statue of christ the king under blue sky

Welcome to Anthem 20 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.

This time, I went back to one of the psalms set for this week – Psalm xciii (93). I altered the order of some parts and combined a couple of lines to make the setting easier.

Here are the words:


Words for Anthem 20:

The Lord is King,

The Lord has put on glorious apparel and girded himself with strength.

He hath made the round world sure : that it cannot be moved.

The floods are risen O Lord, the floods have lift up their voice : the floods lift up their waves.

The waves of the sea are mighty, and rage horribly : but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.

I felt that I needed to create something for my 20th anthem that showed some of the aspects of what I’ve learned so far. Having strong intentions hasn’t necessarily resulted in them coming to fruition so for in this project but this time I’m pleased with the anthem that emerged.

The Lord is King combines some of the approach of previous ones such as How Lovely Shines the Morning Star in its tonal freedom, I think, while still sounding a little unusual throughout. Maybe this is the beginning of a ‘signature sound’ for my unaccompanied anthems. One concern I have, however, is how to marry the sense of freedom with memorability – I think that’s a common issue with modern choral music. Sometimes, the more interesting the harmony and structure of a piece, the less memorable it is. It’s something I’m going to try and tackle as I go on with Anthem 52.

Once again I have begun the piece with an ascending pattern in the treble part but maybe that’s also a bit of a trademark and I’m not worried about that. I’ve also added in a technique I have enjoyed previously – shifting the whole key upwards when repeating a section. I think this means that the material stays fresh rather than feeling like a lack of ideas.

I also like the time signature freedom of this anthem. Where the phrasing suggests a break, I have added this in deliberately by extending the bar with a silent beat. I realise that conductors would probably instinctively add this kind of feel themselves in performance but I like the way the software plays this back and makes my intentions clear. It remains to be seen if this works in performance or causes unnecessary complexity.

I enjoyed some word painting when setting ideas of strength and particularly the waves that crop up in several different ways. It doesn’t go as far as the infamous ‘stagger like a drunken man’ in Herbert Sumsion’s ‘They that go down to the sea in ships’ (which I have always liked) but I still think my undulating wavy section works well. I might alter the ‘rage horribly’ section when I return to edit this anthem, so maybe that is just a placeholder for now.

The opening section is repeated at the end in traditional style (that’s another candidate for later alteration, perhaps) but overall I think the 3min 30secs anthem is one of the best so far. It’s only May so maybe by December I will have developed my techniques further.

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 32 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?


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