(“ O Come, Let Us Sing”)
for SSA choir, piano and bells, ad lib
During the crusades (eleventh through thirteenth centuries), the Knights Templars used Psalm 95 (Venite, exultemus Domino) as their battle song. This Venite is still in use, liturgically, in services of both Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. In order to achieve a more jubilant ending, however, a 1789 revision to The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in America altered the original Venite, substituting verses nine and thirteen of Psalm 96 for the final four verses of Psalm 95. Like all the psalm and canticle English translations in this version of The Book of Common Prayer, the 1789 revised Venite comes from the 1539 translation of The Great Bible. It is this 1789 version of Venite that I have used in my VENITE (“O Come, Let Us Sing”).
VENITE was composed in the late summer of 1997 on commission from Greensboro Youth Chorus (Ann Doyle, Founder and Artistic Director), to whom it is dedicated, in honor of the ensemble’s tenth anniversary (1998) year. The first commission ever by Greensboro Youth Chorus, this select choir is sponsored by The Music Center, City Arts, of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department (Greensboro, North Carolina). Commission funding was made possible, in part, with support from the United Arts Council of Greensboro, the North Carolina Arts Council and the Grassroots Arts Program.
Ad lib bell parts, consisting of five different pitches in three different octaves, are written (though not all noted pitches need be employed). If bell parts are used, it is preferable that they be played by the choir members themselves. If desired by the conductor, however, separate bell players may be utilized to play these parts. In such case, it may be desirable to place the bells antiphonally to the placement of the chorus and piano. In the absence of handbells, instruments such as orchestral chimes and glockenspiel may be substituted or, even, used in combination with handbells.
Duration of VENITE : ca. 5’ 30”
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
O come, let us sing unto the Lord;
let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving,
and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth,
and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his and he made it,
and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God,
and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth,
and with righteousness to judge the world
and the peoples with his truth.
(Psalm 95:1-7; Psalm 96: 9,13)