Tidings of Great Joy | Custom Christmas Orchestral Prelude

As the rest of the country begins to gear up for the holiday season, it's been Christmas for church musicians and arrangers since August (or perhaps earlier!). Music is selected, parts are ordered and placed into folders, accompaniments are practiced and scores are studied, all in preparation to begin rehearsals in the fall for Christmas programs in December. 

 Final edits and engraving before printing parts. 

Final edits and engraving before printing parts. 

Over the last 9 years, I have had the privilege of working closely with the music department of Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis, TN. As a member, I have worn many hats from singing in the choir to writing custom orchestrations for services. As I have invested in them, they have invested in me, and this congregation holds a special place in my heart. This year will mark my 6th year of arranging the prelude for IPC's annual Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols. 

"Tidings of Great Joy"

This arrangement is a custom orchestral prelude for Independent Presbyterian Church's 2017 Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols. This year I was given the theme of "Joy," and a time limit of 3 1/2 minutes. I chose melodies that were in the public domain, fit the theme, and pulled from the service itself so that the music is seamlessly integrated. 

This prelude begins with a bouncy and cheerful "Joy to the World," and quickly introduces brass with a fanfare of "Angels from the Realms of Glory," which will be included in the service. Lilting harp with brass and organ transition to "How Great Our Joy" and "Wake Awake for Night is Flying," with shimmering woodwinds and strings that build anticipation up to the final verses of "Quelle est cette oudeur agreable (Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor)." Warm strings and clarinet solo are joined by the organ, blooming to a key change from C to D. In the final verse, full orchestra with soaring string melody is joined with glockenspiel and brass superimposing "The First Noel." This prelude settles to a close with peaceful organ and strings in the key of D. This key was chosen because the following piece in the program, "Once In Royal David's City," is being sung in G, and tight integration into the service was of utmost importance.

Instrumentation

1 Flute/Piccolo, 1 Clarinet, 1 Oboe, 1 Bassoon, 2 Horns, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Percussion (Timpani, Triangle, Glockenspiel, Suspended Cymbal, Sleigh Bells), Harp, Organ, 3 Violin I, 3 Violin II, 2 Violas, 1 Cello, 1 Contrabass

 Parts neatly assembled, ready for rehearsal and performance

Parts neatly assembled, ready for rehearsal and performance

Engraving and Parts

The Christmas season is busy for professional musicians, and rehearsal time is often limited. Ease of use is at the forefront of my mind when engraving and preparing parts for musicians. Easy to read, clear cues and instructions, and optimizing for page turns are of utmost importance to me.

 Organ part. When your instrument requires all your limbs, it's especially important to optimize page turns.

Organ part. When your instrument requires all your limbs, it's especially important to optimize page turns.

I engraved the parts at score for "Tidings of Great Joy" as closely as possible to MOLA (Major Orchestra Librarians' Association) Music Preparation Guidelines, with some slight modifications to account for printing. 

All parts are printed on archival quality acid-free paper, and bound with staples, with a spiral-bound score. 

 Full score, before binding. Easy to read and reference for rehearsal, optimized page turns for performance.

Full score, before binding. Easy to read and reference for rehearsal, optimized page turns for performance.

Performance

To hear this piece live, join us in the sanctuary of Independent Presbyterian Church on December 3rd, 2017 at 6:00pm. For more details, visit www.ipcmemphis.org.

If you are interested in performing this piece with your ensemble, contact Arron for more details. 

 

CompositionArron Powell