Anthem 7 – O come, let us worship

Welcome to Anthem 7 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.

If you are listening to this episode as soon as it’s released in February 2024, I am in Devon with (part of)  my family. I did manage to complete Anthem 7 before I went though, as you’ll hear.

After last week’s atonal piece, I decided to go the other way. I’ve wanted to have a go at working from existing models for a long time so I chose ‘O taste and see’ by Vaughan Williams because of its brevity and simplicity of structure. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could come up with my own version of organ introduction, simple but beautiful treble solo and canon-type chorus parts. If you’re wondering what i mean by canon, Wikipedia defines it like this:

“A canon is a piece [made up of] of voices (or instrumental parts) that sing or play the same music starting at different times. A round is a type of canon, but in a round each voice, when it finishes, can start at the beginning again so that the piece can go “round and round”.”

‘O taste and see’ isn’t a strict canon in the way something like Pachelbel’s Canon is – it just uses part of the technique.

The solo treble starts again before the rest of the choir have finished and then the same thing happens again to create a full choir ending. Pretty simple stuff. I could copy this, couldn’t I? Well, yes and no. 

I created an organ introduction I was happy with and then the treble solo but it turned out to be a folk-tune type melody rather than the sublime simplicity of Vaughan Williams’ model. That ended up taking me down a rather different avenue than I intended, as always seems to be the way with composing for me. Anyway, the canon-type entries worked fine and, as I was expecting, I had to alter the harmony to make it all work. I didn’t mind doing that at all.

I’ve just realised I’ve forgotten to talk about the words I used. It’s another random few verses from a psalm – in this case, Psalm xcv – that’s 95. Here are the verses I used:

Words for Anthem 7:

O come, let us worship, and fall down: and kneel before the Lord our Maker

For he is the Lord and we are the people and the sheep of his hand.


Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation

Just three lines and the last one is truncated because it goes on ‘ … as in the day of temptation in the wilderness … ‘ and then the rest of the psalm becomes even more unsuitable for what I wanted to set.

I added in another treble solo just before the end of the canon-type part, like in the model but then I got a bit carried away. I decided to support the solo first with another treble line and an alto line and then another section with just tenor and bass accompanying it. I couldn’t stick to the original plan because of the character of the melody I had created, I think.

At the end of this, the canon section seemed to fit so I repeated it and then I wanted a contrasting section. So I threw caution to the wind and stuck in a G minor passage. THe anthem starts in G major.

This is where I set ‘Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation’. The original anthem only has organ in the introduction but this section felt too bare with solo treble alone so I put in an organ bass part. Then I passed the sombre melody around tenor and bass parts supported by two bass clef organ parts. Finally, full choir enters unaccompanied to complete the quieter section. I was quite pleased with this contrast.

As usual, I repeat the organ introduction back in G major after a break (which doesn’t turn up in the audio version) and the final choir section repeats the canon section and features a treble solo over the top of 4-part harmony with no organ part. This is my first experience writing both a counter-melody and part of a piece in full 5-part harmony. I think it works well.

I also had some fun working out a good ending. The solo reappears with growing organ accompaniment and ends with a silly chord.

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 – and a new anthem – only 45 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?


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