Piece of the week: ‘Alleluia’ for SATB choir

It’s now over thirty years since I wrote a setting of Alleluia, and a recent request for copies has caused me to revisit it and make it available in print or digital download.

My piece consists of only two words, ‘Alleluia’ and ‘Gloria’ – of course innumerable composers have set these words before, but it’s got me thinking about how mellifluous those two words are. ‘Alleluia’, in particular, with its four vowels and few consonants, is a very singable word, and also lends itself to four different accentuations. Looking at the most well-known setting, from Handel’s Messiah, we find HA-le-lu-jah, and ha-le-LU-jah, and in some European renaissance settings we find a triple metre al-LE-lu-IA.  And just this Sunday, in church, we sung the Walford Davies arrangement of ‘O filii et fillae’ (O sons and daughters) which accentuates all four syllables of ‘alleluia’ in just three bars!

I don’t think I was specifically thinking about the variety of possible accentuations when I wrote my Alleluia – but I realise now that during the course of the piece I did emphasise all four syllables – and although the fourth syllable is stressed less frequently than the others, it tends to be at points of climax.

And how did I use the ‘Gloria’?  That word seems more rhythmically focussed, and I used it mainly in a simple equal-note rhythm, repeated over and over, to provide a fast-moving background for a more flowing ‘alleluia’ above, and enable some textural variety in a predominantly joyous and harmonically based piece.

Here’s a link to a recording (with scrolling score) by the Kelvedon Singers – who are singing it again in their summer concert this year – and here’s a link to a page with ordering details etc.  Hope you enjoy it!