New Music week 10: PROMISED LAND

52 in 52Here is a simple setting of PROMISED LAND, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.” Originally, this American tune was written in the minor mode, but most modern hymnals place it in the major mode.* Either way, the text describes images from the apostle John’s Revelation (chapters 21 and 22). Verse 4, in particular, captures a sense of the wanderer’s longing for the Promised Land: “When shall I reach that happy place and be forever blest? When shall I see my Father’s face and in His bosom rest?” I tried to allow this sentiment to come through in my setting of the tune.

*For those interested in technical, musical details, this tune contains only 5 distinct pitches (not the pentatonic–anhemitonic–collection, though). To write within self-imposed parameters, I limited myself to only 5 pitches throughout the piece. So, there is neither a C nor a D on the page!

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