Sunday, September 6, 2020
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
One of the hymns I learned in childhood was in the old Broadman Hymnal. There were some pretty "involved" hymns in that old hymnbook (some 2-Pagers!), but our little country church of about 100 people sang them anyway...with gusto. I remember as a child seeing The Hallelujah Chorus in the back portion of the hymnal, wondering if we would ever sing that hymn. We didn't...but we did sing Peace, Be Still and some other fairly impressive hymns. Those hymns contributed to my life in huge ways. They were the foundation for my musical life and my life of faith.
I loved going home from church as a five or six-year-old, and "picking out" the hymns from Sunday morning on our old upright piano. It was sooo old (the crusty black stuff). After I began taking piano lessons at six-years-old, Mom purchased a beautiful Kohler and Campbell spinet piano, and I thought I was great stuff. The only problem was that the piano could only do what I was committed to bring to it. In other words, I had to practice, and that was not enjoyable for me...the person who wanted to "get it done" so I could go on to more important things.
The problem I had with the piano lesson bit was that the concepts of rhythms (durations in time) and lines and spaces (pitches) were really not concrete enough for me to understand at such a young age, much less apply those concepts to another object (the piano). It was just too much. I had a really good teacher, but it was more fun to "not worry about such stuff"...then I would trick my piano teacher into playing it for me....whereupon, I would just play it back to her while I looked at her. Success!! Ah....the days of really good ears! She kept telling me to look at the music, but that was a real hindrance to accomplishment. I "had it going on" for a while, but she called me out, and would no longer play anything for me. If it was going to "happen," I was going to have to figure it out and "make it happen."
It was only a few years afterward that I began to be able to play almost any hymn in the hymnal, and because the old hymns in The Broadman Hymnal spoke to me, I had a great time practicing the piano. They were not what I should have been practicing, but they were fun to play. They were meaningful. My mom always washed dishes while I practiced, and she enjoyed my hymns. All good.
The Ninety and Nine is a hymn about the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14). The parable primarily meant that even though a person might be "astray," the Shepherd will leave the 99 in the flock to search for the one sheep that is lost. Of course, the point was that we are all of the greatest value to the Shepherd...every last one of us.
This arrangement is written for a cappella voices, but feel free to use the optional accompaniment, if you choose. The voices provide the introduction on "Ah," and the same type of connective material is used between verses.
Take a look at the webpage on Earlene Rentz Online Publications, and see the visual of the sheep in the photo. That sort of brings you into the imagery of the parable. As you will note in the descriptors, I have also written Solo versions for Low, Medium, and High Voice. Listen to the audio, and follow along on the Preview.
With the COVID restrictions of late, you might not be meeting as a choir just yet, so use the Solo Voice editions now and save the SATB Voicing for later, when our choirs return.
As a friend said to me, "When I hear this arrangement, it takes me back to the old Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia." For those of you who have been to the Fox, you remember the clouds floating by and the ornate surroundings. That is exactly what I "heard" as I created this arrangement.
I hope you will enjoy singing this piece. Please watch the video above to have a better idea about the entire pastoral scene depicted in this arrangement.
Enjoy...and please stay safe.