Anthem 23 – Deus deorum

Welcome to Anthem 23 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.

Technology is a fantastic thing, when it works. When it doesn’t it’s among the most frustrating things imaginable. This has been another highly frustrating week, due to technology.

The anthem writing didn’t go too badly and I ended up being fairly satisfied with what I produced for my 23rd attempt. The lyrics come from one of the week’s psalms again, this time Psalm l (50).

Here are the words:


Words for Anthem 23:

The Lord, even the most mighty God, hath spoken :

and called the world, from the rising up of the sun, unto the going down thereof.

Out of Sion hath God appeared : in perfect beauty.

There are even fewer words than usual but plenty of opportunities for a bit of word painting.

Paint Brushes” by Marcin Milewski/ CC0 1.0

I was attempting to create an organ part this week that had a little more subtlety than previous ones. I was inspired by the recent Shakespeare Anthem by composer Becky McGlade. Her organ part is lovely and subtle – not words I would use to describe my own so far. I think I failed and fell into my normal much more bombastic style but at least I was concentrating on making the part less chordal and more lyrical – perhaps I can aim for that in the future. It did end having a little more motion in terms of quavers (8th notes) and dotted rhythms so maybe I’m being a little hard on myself.

In common with last time, I used one line per part to make the conversion to Logic Pro easier and this, once again, resulted in more swapping of parts which I think is positive.

I also tried out starting at a moderate pace and then speeding up for contrast. This gave a little fresh impetus to the feel, I think.

I added some pretty obvious but still effective word painting in the rising of the sun and then setting of the sun part and though some sections are based on previous ones, there is no verbatim repeating. The anthem is also a little longer than the average with flexibility in time signatures and a bold ending.

So far, so good. Then it was time to transfer the anthem via midi file to Logic Pro. This ended up not going at all well.

As I mentioned last week, I have a new choir plugin that includes the ability to set words to be sung in a synthetic manner. I felt I was making some progress with arranging the words to this anthem in the wordbuilder section of the app but when I started listening back I realised that the words were very unclear – not much of a problem because at least they were starting to sound more like the singers were attempting words rather than simple ah sounds – more importantly, I didn’t understand how to get the plugin to sing quietly. I have read reviews of the plugin that say its dynamic range is one of its strengths but the tenor sound was just so strident that is ruined the whole mixture. I’ve tried a few of these plugins now and it always seems to be the tenor sound that is lacking. I know the parts I write for tenor can be towards the top of the range but I sing tenor myself every week so I know for a fact that it is possible to sing a D or an E quietly and with subtlety. The plugins seem to assume that if you want the tenors to sing high, it must be a dramatic, full-throttle sound you are after. I am absolutely sure that it is possible to set the plugin to create a much less strident sound but I haven’t discovered how to do this yet. I decided to abandon the attempt at words and use just a standard ‘oh’ sound for all the notes. However, the plugin then just stopped working completely. I could get the soprano line to work with just that vowel sound but not any of the other parts. Restarting the app and the computer made no difference. In a state of frustration, I abandoned the process so the version you have heard already and will hear next is the basic Musescore one. Hopefully I will get to grips with the Plugin soon.

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


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