Choral  Meditation  on
"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"
A Four-Verse Hymn Anthem  for Choir and Organ
Tune:  Picardy:  French Carol, 17th Century
(from  Chansons populaires de France, 1860)
Text:  Liturgy of St. James, paraphrased by Gerard Moultrie  (1829-1885)
 (5 Pages)

Setting  by  Ennis Fruhauf


“Let  all  mortal  flesh  keep  silence”  is  an introspective four-verse  hymn  anthem  for unison voices (bass and treble) and organ accompaniment.
        The traditional text is drawn from the Liturgy of St. James, paraphrased by Gerard Moultrie (1829-1885), and was first published in the second edition of Lyra Eucharistica, 1864.  The original folk verse associated with the tune takes its name from the French province of its origin;  It was transcribed and published in Chansons populaires des provences de France (1860), and later adopted for use in The English Hymnal (1906). 
[Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981]

        Both conservative and muted in nature, a unison setting of the first verse is characterized by a brief descending counter-motif in the organ accompaniment. The second verse introduces  a free canon (at the interval of a fifth)  in the organ accompaniment that echoes phrases of the hymn tune as sung by the voices.  The third verse is set in a contrasting key and introduces a fanfare-like figuration that is repeated against consecutive  phrases  of  the  melody, building  toward a dramatic pause, then concluded by the stanza's final phrase. The original key returns for the final verse, presenting a free canon (at the octave), again in the organ accompaniment.  A brief organ cadence recalls the fanfare figurations of the third verse.

        Given that “Let all mortal flesh keep silence”  is traditionally a communion hymn, this setting could provide an appropriate eucharistic anthem – or serve instead as an an offertory suitable for the season of Epiphany, as seen in its strong textual reference to the bringing of light and banishing of darkness.  While making minimal technical demands on singers and organist, the sonorities and textures of Picardy­­ portray an extraordinarily sublime text.