Anthem 21 – May God the Father Bless us

Welcome to Anthem 21 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 Pentecost this week so I looked for an ancient Pentecost prayer. A 1st Century one by Æthelwold is probably out of copyright so that fitted the bill.

Here are the words:


Words for Anthem 21:

May God the Father bless us;
may Christ take care of us;
the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life.
The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul,
both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.

Æthelwold c 908-984

Last weekend my daughter and I went with Holy Trinity Church Choir to sing Evensong at Hereford Cathedral. Several people told us how pleasurable that building is to sing in and that it has one of the best organs in the country. We agreed. The ministers and staff were very welcoming as was the fantastic Song School and the generous 4-second echo. I have sung in many places with a great acoustic but Hereford is special. It made the performance effortless and meant that it was easy to produce contrasting dynamics. Sadly, the acoustic in our home Church is very dry indeed, despite its physical beauty. Also unfortunately, our Director of Music, Doug, was ill and couldn’t make the trip. Our Assistant Director of Music, Rebecca, stepped in however and did exceptionally well. Our probationers also did really well, despite a couple of ‘wobbles’. Overall it was a wonderful trip.

I’ve decided to start including clips of the anthem before the main playthrough in the podcast episodes. Hopefully this will make what I’m saying clearer.

The very positive experience at Hereford spurred me on to complete Anthem 21 which I had started a short time before the trip. This is another one with an organ accompaniment and features a legato introduction with a crescendo towards the choir entry. I tried to create interesting harmony with plenty of shifting timing and a build up towards the choir entry.

Even though the words could be set in a soft, warm manner, my anthem seemed to want some loud singing so that’s what transpired. All in the key of C, the choral part is fairly dense with quite a lot going on. The sopranos and bass move slowly against tenors and altos at times – an effect I like.

I have included several sections of solo organ between unaccompanied choral passages and the middle one is a long organ workout with the only quavers (8th notes) in the piece.

The penultimate section is unusual for me (so far) as it features repeated, overlapping lines that build up with the addition of parts towards a strident, block chordal ending. With the long crescendo, I think it’s quite exciting – or would be in a real performance. I also like the emphatic, held chords at the end. I threw in as many notes as possible to make the effect huge – and dissonant.

Unfortunately, when I came to transfer the midi file to Logic Pro, I hit the usual problem of the vocals turning out muddy and the overall effect being disappointing. The dynamic range is also really wide, making the quiet sections far too low.

My dissatisfaction may be due to spending too much time with the anthem. Perhaps it will sound much better when I return later in the year to listen to it. I still do have a feeling it would work really well in a real performance – maybe at Hereford Cathedral?

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


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