When I Hear The Trumpet Sound

TTBB, unaccompanied

A dark, intense setting of the Civil War era hymn from Southern Harmony. This setting explores the religious fervor of a soldier preparing to go into battle, steadying himself with visions of the endless pleasures of the afterlife. Score and recording below.


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PROGRAM NOTES

The story of old generals indoctrinating young warriors with religious fervor to get them to put aside their better judgment and march into certain death is not new, nor is it limited to one particular religious group or another. In this hymn from the American Civil War, we hear the soldier’s belief that this world, where he is alive, is merely a “vain world of sin” and that his death will be followed by an afterlife where he will, with his “precious Savior, drink endless pleasures in.” In that war, somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 soldiers died, with single battle losses ranging into the tens of thousands. The scars persist.

NOTES ON PREPARATION AND PERFORMANCE

The opening texture alternates between a few singers using a clearer, stronger tone and the full group in a hushed, almost whispered. breathy tone. This piece should be sung with a manic, fanatical assurance, until the very end, when the underlying fear and uncertainty are left unresolved.

TEXT

John Leland, 1793
Tune: B. F. White, 1844

Oh when shall I see Jesus and reign with him above,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?
And from the flowing fountain drink everlasting love,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?

Oh, shout glory! I shall rise above the skies
When I hear the trumpet sound in that morning.

When shall I be delivered from this vain world of sin,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?
And with my precious Savior drink endless pleasures in,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?

Oh, shout glory! I shall rise above the skies
When I hear the trumpet sound in that morning.

 

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