GCPO Sunday hymn setting, Walter Greatorex's tune WOODLANDS
The joyful, singable tune WOODLANDS was composed by an English school master in 1916 and crafted from a rather spare harmonic tool chest....yet despite the seeming lack of texture when you look at his score, the magic happens when you hear the genius hidden in that simplicity: it concedes nothing in the way of organic majesty. In my arrangement, as always, I render the creator's original work, which I label 'hymnal verse.' For such a minimalist structure, you will find that first verse amazing in its richness.
It took many decades for this tune to meet Timothy Dudley-Smith's paraphrase of the Magnificat, "Tell out my soul;" a long wait, but this is a marriage made in heaven.
My contribution (if is is that) consists of two additional harmonic explorations: an a cappella verse for SATB choir, and then a verse and harmonization with a soprano descant (Fr. from L., dis-song, ie, against the song). The reason for veering off in this direction is that Greatorex's original work is strictly for organ and doesn't support part singing, and I generally start by writing the descant against the tune, and then writing the organ part to support both. In this case, stepwise motion in the descant required corollary movement in the bass, which as you can hear, adds quite a bit of texture and drama. The concluding four bars end with a low D pedal point.
Re: GCPO Sunday hymn setting, Walter Greatorex's tune WOODLANDS
Thank you for your kind words. Right now, I have been going through my backlist and re-recording to GCPO. However, I have picked out another tune to write to, which you should be hearing in a couple weeks.
Yesterday at a large church near me I got to hear three of my arrangements - CORONATION (op. 1!!) in the morning, and at Evensong, BROMLEY and ST. CLEMENT (op. 2). Always nice to remind myself why I go through the drill of writing from (and for) a score... real organists do a much better job than I could hope to do, and as prints of my work linger in musty file cabinets, there's a chance that some of these arrangements might have a longer life than my own.
I love knowing that the congregation, singing in full throated confidence, is unaware that the tune is not in the voice leading of the accompaniment at all...they have to supply that on their own!