Composer Robert McCormick
Difficulty Moderately easy
Catalog no. 160-738
Price $17.50 (U.S.)
These hymn free harmonizations draw on Robert McCormick’s years of experience as a church musician and his own style of hymn playing. The accompaniments are rich in activity and detail and will be useful to support a strong singing congregation.
From the Composer
These harmonizations are intended for unison singing of final verses (with one exception, the first alternate harmonization of St. Anne). They are intended to enhance, not detract from, congregational singing, so should be carefully rehearsed and used in instances where the congregation (and choir, if there is one) is familiar enough with the hymn in question not to be distracted.
Registrations and tempi are left to the organist’s discretion, as best suits each text, the particular organ, acoustic, and assembled forces. Legato articulation is appropriate in most instances. Breaths should be taken as seem fitting for the text, and are left unmarked.
These harmonizations are dedicated to Camille Bishop, my first teacher and musical inspiration as a child, upon her retirement after 35 years as Organist and Director of Music at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church, Macon, Georgia. Through Cam’s beautiful playing I first learned to love hymnody, and I am a church musician today largely because of her example and support.
Hymn tunes included
"This collection is volume 18 of Selah's Hymn Intonations, Preludes & Free Harmonizations series and includes 16 free harmonizations for common hymns. McCormick's writing is colorful and chromatic without being overly dissonant, usually containing five to six relatively active voices. The pedal part is written on a separate staff. All except the first of two ST. ANNE settings are written to be used with the final stanza of the hymn. Nine of the 16 harmonizations incorporate the hymn melody in the soprano for all or most of the alternate accompaniment, while the other seven require the congregation to sing the melody independently. Two (EASTER HYMN and WESTMINSTER ABBEY) include an optional, reproducible descant that doubles the soprano line of the organ setting. Organists should pay careful attention to phrasing and breaths in the original hymn, as McCormick has intentionally omitted these markings. Other tunes included are AURELIA; DUKE STREET; EBENEZER; HANOVER; HYFRYDOL; LEONI; NICAEA; ROCKINGHAM; ST. ALBINUS; ST. MAGNUS; WAREHAM; and WINCHESTER NEW. The collection also includes an index of all 18 volumes of this series." --Cross Accent, Fall/Winter 2017
"Robert McCormick is a distinguished AAM member, currently directing the music program at St. Mark’s in Philadelphia. I first got to know him when he and I worked in Manhattan and I loved to hear his service playing and improvisation at St. Mary the Virgin when I had the opportunity. These settings are in the grand style and would benefit from moderate tempi (not too fast), given an abundance of passing tones. Many of them keep the melody in the soprano, though some stray from the melody, and several include choral descants. This is one of the few volumes I plan to turn to for free accompaniments, though I generally prefer to improvise my own." --AAM Journal, April 2018