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Four Verses   on
Amazing Grace
for Organ
(5 pages of music)

Notes

Four Verses on Amazing Grace presents a pentatonic hymn tune, New Britain, that was first published in
Virginia Harmony in 1831. It can be found in other hymn tune anthologies bearing other names, i.e., Harmony Grove, Symphony, Solon, and/or Redemption. Its origins are based in early American folk music, with deeper
roots extending back into Anglo-European folk
cultures.

In this setting, the four variations follow a brief introduction. The third verse modulates to a new tonic key and
is bolstered by dancing triplet figurations. A richly harmonized fourth variation returns to the original tonic key,
with the hymn tune presented in the alto voice; the melody can be clarified by playing soprano, tenor and pedal
(i.e. bass) lines with a lightly detached touch. The introduction reappears as a codetta to round out these four variations.


Like many of its companion settings, presentations of hymn tune phrases in Amazing Grace can be sung by unison
 or part voices, or reinforced by instrumental ensembles.  The fourth verse would be greatly enhanced by the addition of a distinctive soloist, or by unison choral voices doubling the alto line.  N.B. The accompanimental figurations in the third verse present unusual technical challenges that can be alleviated if necessary by omitting
the variation, along with its framing modulatory transitions (from meas. 41 through 73).

   Click the image below to download a PDF booklet
available in November 2021
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