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Sing to the Lord with Cheerful Voice

Composer William Billings, arr. David W. Music Text Various
Varies Price $2.50 (U.S.) Released 7/96
Catalog no. 410-134 Difficulty Moderately easy

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"The prolific Bostonian, William Billings (1746-1800), was the first American-born composer of consequence. Many of his pieces were popular in New England 200 years ago, and a few are still to bound in shape-note tune-books. To mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, ten of his hymn-tunes and two canons have been arranged by David Music for use by present-day congregations.

Billings was untutored in the properties of European harmony and his work abounds in parallel fifths, octaves, open fifths and so on. These have not been edited out for they contribute much to the characteristic rustic vigour of the music. Dr. Music has restricted himself to transferring the melody from the tenor to the top voice and making some adjustments in other parts necessitated by downward transposition and the avoidance of voices crossing. Although Billings often favoured tunes of the 'fuguing' type the present collection contains only straightforward settings.

For tunes originally published without words, or with texts unsuited for modern use, Dr. Music has supplied verses from sources (such as Watts and Tate & Brady) with which Billings would have been familiar.

This welcome booklet provides in practical form an excellent taste of music that is an important part of American heritage." ­Bulletin, The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, April, 1996

"In honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Billings, David W. Music has selected and arranged twelve of the composer's hymns and canons in a small collection called "Sing to the Lord with Cheerful Voice" (Selah, 410-314) The 'arranging' involved the placing of the melody in the soprano voice, transposing, and making other smaller adaptations all for the purpose of encouraging the use of these tunes for congregational singing. Several of the tunes are paired with texts originally found with them; others have a different but specially selected text. This small collection can be purchased and placed in the pews for continued use, utilized as a choir resource, or, by paying a fee and using the form included for one-time license, individual hymns can be copied. A fine way to revive and keep alive these treasures!" ­The Hymn, July 1996
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