Take My Life and Let it Be


An expressive and musically rich setting of the beloved hymn.  The traditional melody shines in the first two verses, as SA and TB present it in turn.  Then an unexpected modulation into a minor key provides a true “B” section structured with imitation and counterpoint. Another unexpected turn brings a moment of quiet homophony on the most inward of the verses: “Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store…” A building choral interlude leads to a recapitulation to the home key for the culminating verse crowned with a brief soaring coda on the text “Let them flow in ceaseless praise.”

A licensed copy is required for each member performing.


When I was in my mid-20s and “between things,” I landed at home with my parents in northern Minnesota for a month.  I had plenty of time to think, read  (“Lord of the Rings), and to take long daily walks under the blue sky as the winter sun made the snowscape sparkle like diamonds. The old oak upright piano that I had grown up playing had migrated with my parents from Iowa to the living room of their small lakeside house, and I played it quite a bit as I contemplated a musical future that was as yet completely unplanned.  The one bit of creation from that month that I remember was an alternate melody for the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” (maybe that was my somewhat desperate prayer at the time — wanting to “amount to something” but having no idea quite how it was going to happen.)
Anyway, I thought I “had something” there in a declarative and bold variant of the melody — and I eventually found a use for it, half a lifetime later, when my friend Jack Hill asked if I might arrange “Take My Life” for the the 300th anniversary of his church, the Presbyterian Church at Woodbury in New Jersey.  The melody variation became the second verse for tenors and basses, and it is also used at the recapitulation in conjunction with the traditional melody.  Nothing is wasted — if you live long enough!  I was very happy to play the premiere with Jack and his choir as other dear music friends from the area joined in for the day.

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SATB piano

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