A grand arrangement...received spontaneous applause.
— Dr Joseph R Curtis, Choral Director, John F Kennedy Schule, Berlin. Gordon Thornett
Cherubic Hymn for SATB choir with organ or orchestra
“Prelude and Cherubic Hymn” was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, to mark the 25th anniversary of their annual Advent services held in Berlin Cathedral. It was performed by joint choirs, drawn from students, parents and faculty, and choir members of the American Church in Berlin on 29 November 2017.
The piece is built around the ancient hymn, “Let all mortal flesh keep silence”. I was asked to write an organ prelude, to serve as a processional as the choirs assembled. This may be ordered separately.
After an opening fanfare-like section, the hymn setting starts gently, with sopranos singing in unison, with successive verses using contrasting choral forces to reflect the words, and the music builds to a big climax, with a return of the fanfare opening, for the final verse, “At his feet the six-winged seraph”, ending with joyful “Alleluias”. Although originally conceived for a large chorus with orchestral accompaniment, the setting may be performed with just organ or piano.
The accompanying video is an extract from the first performance in the magnificent setting of Berlin Cathedral, which was packed to capacity. The quality of both sound and picture isn’t great, but it will provide you with an idea of the atmosphere and impact of the piece. The sound recording covers the whole piece, using Sibelius sounds. (You may also like to hear a computer generated recording of the whole piece.)
Dr. Joseph R. Curtis, Choral Director at the JFK School, writes:
“Prelude and Cherubic Hymn is a grand arrangement of the timeless carol ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’. Utilizing choir, full orchestra and organ, it is sure to please and impress performers and audience alike. At a recent performance in the Berlin Cathedral, the piece received spontaneous applause (which was a first for this kind of event).”
NOTE – Although originally scored for orchestra, the piece would work well with just choir and organ – in which case the fanfare sections at the beginning and the first 6 measures at letter F could be omitted.
Via the options below, the full orchestra version can be purchased in print with the combination of the piano/organ version in the desired quantity of copies, plus the score and parts. The downloadable full score and parts comes with a license to make as many copies of the vocal score as are needed.