Piece of the week 60 – Hearts to Heaven

Very best wishes for Easter! I’d like to introduce an anthem which originated in a slightly different form some years ago, but which I revised in 2022.  It is a setting of Easter words by Christopher Wordsworth. This particular Wordsworth, headmaster of Harrow School and later Bishop of Lincoln, was the nephew of the poet William Wordsworth, and a fairly typical Victorian clergyman, noted for his good works and general intellectual interest. Outside his ecclesiastical duties, he was a keen archaeologist, publishing several books on Ancient Greece, as well as several devotional volumes and many hymn texts, of which ‘Alleluia, Alleluia, Hearts to Heaven’ is one.

For my setting of these words, for SATB unaccompanied, I modernised the text somewhat, avoiding, for example, references to the ‘Triune Majesty’, which I hope makes it more relevant to present-day worshippers, and gave it a jaunty and lively metre, alternating 3/4 and 6/8 with a few bars of 4/4 thrown in. However, it’s not particularly difficult to sing, with much stepwise movement, and the tenor part can be omitted to assist choirs with few men.

The opening section welcomes Christ, the King of glory, with the words ‘Christ is risen’ set to a rising unison passage – then a short central section, with a key-change and optional solo voices, brings the ‘golden ears of harvest…ripened by the glorious sunshine’. We then return to the opening music, and finally the ‘Christ is risen’ passage becomes a succession of Alleluias as we raise our song to the Lord.

Here is a recording with scrolling score – this was recorded on my phone at Lion Walk Church in Colchester, sung enthusiastically by our small amateur choir against the background of a busy Easter service!

The music, published by Encore Publications, is on sale here.