Descant collections
  • What are people using for descants?
    I'm interested in free and for purchase options.
    A little more time in my week, and I'll write some, but for now I'm looking for handy resources.
    Thanks in advance.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,606
    The Canadian Hymnal CBWIII has some nice stuff in their choir edition, if you can get your hands on a copy. The choir edition also includes the Willcocks accompaniments and descants to many Christmas carols. Of course the texts won't match and the accompaniments won't match most American editions... so you'll have to double-book sing or pencil in stuff.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Mary Ann, great minds think alike! : ) I just ordered the Oxford Book of Descants the other day. It has 102 descants. The list of hymns and book info is here.

    It's $21 on Amazon for the full music edition and $6 for the melody edition. There are a few descants in the Anglican Hymnal 1982 and I used Volumes I and 2 of the Oxford Carols for Choirs which has the David Willcocks' arrangements w/descants of O Come All Ye Faithful, Once in Royal David's City, The First Nowell, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Where Shepherds Watched.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    P.S. Here's a sample PDF from the Oxford Book of Descants:
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,306
    I just tell one of my tenors to sing whatever comes to mind.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Very cool, Adam! If I ever let my tenor (my 21 year old) loose, things could get pretty interesting---something like a cross between Andy Williams, Andrea Bocelli and Tom Jones.
  • All great ideas. Looks like its time to order a few things.

    Might anyone have a good descant for "We three kings" they can share?
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,606
    Some of the ones here are good:
    http://whitmill.net/descants/

    No Three Kings.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    No Three Kings in my meager collection either. : (

    Here's a recording of a descant for We Three Kings if that helps.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,033
    Sorry, I've been trying to point to this but it apparently redirects unless you go through the actual website. Kinda annoying. Look for the PDF.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,078
    Lois Fyfe Music has several collections of descants. One must purchase from them but they are very good collections.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    I tend to use things from the following books:

    Carols for Choirs (OUP)
    Christmas at King's College (Novello)
    Hymbook 1982
    Hymnal of the Anglican Church in Canada
    CPDL - some nice things there, and they're FREE!
    Hymnary.org - they're Free, too.
    And a collection of descants by Ted Marier, the name of which I can't think of.
    Sometimes, it can work just singing/playing the Alto or Tenor part in the upper octave.
    Thanked by 2JulieColl CHGiffen
  • Decent descants to standard hymns:
    Worship—Third Edition Descant Collection
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Mary Ann,

    You should write the Church of the Holy Childhood in St. Paul, MN for copies of some of their descants. They have beautiful descants, some written by their founding director.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,108
    There is a book of descents for most of the hymns for Worship III.
    Don't know if GIA still publishes it.
  • PascalPascal
    Posts: 5
    @MaryAnn Carr Wilson. I've never been able to find any descants to "We Three Kings"; they seem hard to come by. I wrote a simple one years ago, but didn't score it. If you haven't got one as yet I could do it for you; it's only the chorus as I think the descant would work best for the chorus and not the verses.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,422
    We three kings: This one was referenced by Kathy above, unison and descant on last chorus.
  • Eons ago (or yesterday, by Melo and W's counting) I wrote out my own set of descants, cross referencing Worship III and Hymnal 1982. I don't know if I still have the collection, since I was recently going through files and destroying stuff to make room for other stuff. (These never existed in electronic form.) I'll have a look if anyone's interested. As I recall, they included one for Veni Emmanuel and St. Flavian.

    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • dboothe
    Posts: 27
    Link removed. Page no longer available.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    OCP's descant catalogue is serviceable. They're quite dated now, first appearing in the 80's in little pamphlet volumes, and then in Choral Praise.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    To be honest, I don't think that We Three Kings really needs nor wants a descant, I find its charm to be in its simplicity. What I do think it wants and needs is Hopkin's original interlude/coda to get the refrain back into E minor.
  • ...We Three Kings...needs or wants a descant...

    Humph!
    I don't think that it needs even to be sung, whether it wants to be or not.
    As for a descant?
    That would only make it worse!
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    If anyone is interested, here's a descant for Praise to the Lord (LOBE DEN HERRN) that I sketched last night. (Comments welcome). There are two PDFs, one in G the other in F; other than the key, they are identical.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,781
    I am trying now to remember the name of the noted Anglican choral musician who held We Three Kings in high regard. (Not talking Rutter here.) I remember the fact of that because it was not something I expected. As Christmas carols go, it's better than Silent Night so, there you have it.
  • ...better than Silent Night...
    Oh, is it now!?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,781
    Indeed it is and not just now. Has a somewhat higher/deeper theological content, reasonable voice leading (with no awkward leaps of a minor seventh that cause nasty congregational vocal cauliflowers, and fewer ugly swooping opportunities), and a teleological progression of verses. On the minus side, its 6/8 meter (a true 6/8 rather than gigue in 2) seems to be meant to evoke a caravan, but while not cheesy it's not what Borodin achieved in On The Steppes of Central Asia.

    However, if available, I'll take Stille Nacht on guitar or no accompaniment with a small schola for $500. It's rarely on offer. Instead, it's butchered as its bellowed. (We butcher as we bellow right here in the church...)

    PS: I will now implead my annual pre-Christmas plea regarding another beloved holiday chestnut: Cantique de Noël should be sung only in the original French, and the terribly treacly English paraphrase (if it can be justly called a paraphrase) should be mothballed if it cannot be put down for mercy's sake. The English text cannot hold a candle to the French.
  • ...Cantique de Noel...


    So -Cantique de Noel is it!
    Good gracious!
    This gets worse by the minute.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,306
    We Three Kings is not a Christmas carol.
    It is an Epiphany song. And not a liturgical one, either.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    And not a liturgical one, either.

    B-B-B-but, it WORKS for me! (Whining tone.)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,781
    Adam

    Not quite. It's about the journey from the Nativity to Epiphany - and beyond to the Paschal Mystery (and, impliedly, the journey of our lives to Christ, an eschatological telos). It's not an Epiphany snapshot. It's no sublime masterwork, but it's not mere holiday treacle.

    While my family did not have this practice, I know families did: the practice of the moving the figures of the Magi (and camels if part of the set) through different rooms or chambers of their home over the course of Christmastide, ending up on the eve or morning of Epiphany at the creche. The song has that sense to it.

  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    Descant for "I sing the mighty power of God" (ELLACOMBE).
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    !
  • I'm impressed, Liam, with the skillful literary embroidery by which you would woo from us some measure of esteem for this Epiphany pageant doggerel and its, um, amusing tune. Most impressive! Ah, if only the song itself were as convincing (and spiritually fervent) as your lovely argument. (Maybe I should give it another hearing and hear it through your ears.)
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,108
    When Worship III was published, one of the things that were a companion was a book of descants for nearly every hymn in the book. I don't know if it is still published, but it was great.
    Also, most of you know probably, but an easy way to create a descsnt for any hymn harmonization is to take the tenor part up an octave and assign to sopranos. Works every time.
  • @ghmus7 Yes, one can use the tenor part, or even the alto part an octave higher, or a hybrid of both as a launch pad to create a descant; I've done it.
  • One must consent, though, that the choirmasters of King's College have taken the descant to greater levels than anyone ever thought of. They rather put all others in the shade. Most descants are oh-so-predictable and hum-drum, not terribly interesting as music, other than to provide a thrill or two with a couple of climactic high notes.

    There is a half-way decent one in Worship IV for Wareham, which I did at St Basil's Chapel on a recent Sunday.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Salieri -
    In reply to your e-mail:
    Not in response to your !, but your other assessments of WTKs.
    No sarcasm.
    Just innocent bantering in respectful fun.
    In fact, I just noticed that I was addressing Liam's defense of WTKs, not yours - and have edited my comment accordingly.
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    Thanks, MJO. As I mentioned, I hadn't had my tea yet, so very little in the world was making any sense at that point!
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,437
    Speaking of King's, There is a new book "Hymns from King's", with arr. by Stephen Cleobury. It is published by Edition Peters. There is also a companion CD published by the College (available on the King's website).

    Here is NICEA.

    The last verse is scored for SATB and Organ with the tune in the Tenor (Soprano descant), the last strain divides the Sopranos, Tenors (tune in Tenor II) and Basses -- SSATTBB with Organ.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umAywTDFve8