All Creatures of Our God and King (grade 4)

All Creatures of Our God and King was commissioned by Ken Parsons and the Southern Adventist University Wind Symphony for the 2017 Honors Music Festival. As I recall, when Ken asked me to write the piece, the only specification was that it would have some sort of religious aspect to it. This left me a great many options for the piece, and as I considered these options, I kept returning to a hymn tune that I personally love, All Creatures of Our God and King. I determined to use that as the basis for the work and began experimenting at the piano. Almost immediately, the melody for Simple Gifts emerged from my fingers and I quickly realized that there are hints of many other works also hidden within this beautiful melody.

 

My final setting begins with a chamber-like version of the original hymn tune, with hints of other melodies interspersed. This is followed by a development section, in which each phrase of the original is explored alongside a second, and related, melody. With each phrase, the key areas rise from Eb to F, G, Ab, and Bb, before finally resolving back to Eb. I chose to do this because the original melody begins with this same scalar ascension. Finally, the piece arrives at a climactic presentation of the entire hymn tune, followed by a return of all of the other quoted material, and ending as quietly as it began. Hidden within the work are references to the following well known (and not so well known) pieces: Simple Gifts, Amazing Grace, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Joy to the World, Largo from New World Symphony (Dvorak), Chorale and Alleluia (Hanson), and Symphony No. 4 (Maslanka).

All Creatures of Our God and King
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