Hallelujah (Heavenly Home)

“Hallelujah,” the first movement of  Heavenly Home: Three American Songs, is a six-part a cappella setting of a beloved Sacred Harp tune. Extensive composed material is used as interlude and accompaniment throughout, with “hallelujah’s” leaping, plunging, and circling to the lilting 6/8 rhythms.  The austere Sacred Harp harmonization is used with only slight modifications on each refrain, providing homophonic contrast to the mostly polyphonic verses.

This choral score is published by Boosey & Hawkes. Click here to view.  String parts are also available for this piece. To order contact: skpublishinginfo@gmail.com

Available as: SATB a cappella | SATB with string.



I’m a die-hard J.R.R. Tolkien buff, from way back, long before the movies.  Images from his writing are permanently engraved in my mind, and often re-emerge as I work on new projects.  Early in the Fellowship of the Ring, the hobbit Frodo awakens one morning from a beautiful dream-vision:

“…[he] heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.”

To me, this is very close to how I would love to imagine an arrival to one’s “heavenly home.”  The accompanimental melodies that open “Hallelujah” are my imaginings of what the “sweet singing” of Frodo’s dream-vision might have sounded like, from afar off.  The main Sacred Harp melody, first emerging in the baritones, then increasing in strength as the other men join, depicts the growing light that at last reveals the “green country [opening] before him under a swift sunrise.”

I first heard the Sacred Harp “Hallelujah” at the Midwest Sacred Harp Convention in Chicago in 1999.  It is a perennial favorite in the Sacred Harp community, with its memorable chorus:

“And I’ll sing hallelujah, and you’ll sing hallelujah,
And we’ll all sing hallelujah, when we arrive at home.”

The arrangement cycles through two florid verses, filled with active counterpoint, before a quiet, lingering third verse anchors things emotionally:

“Give joy or grief, give ease or pain, take life or friends away….
But let me find them all again in that eternal day.”

After a final chorus, a return to the opening material brings the arrangement full circle, with heavenly-sounding voices welcoming the soul “home.”

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