Monthly Archives: June 2007

Thy King Cometh

Thy King Cometh is my largest work to date, an oratorio for soloists, choir, and various orchestral forces. It was written in two sections: Music for Holy Week and Music (2006) for Advent (2007).

I began work on it in January 2006 when I was in the employ of the Presbyterian Church of Barrington, IL, and completed the Holy Week portions by early April for liturgical use in the Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday services.

Which all sounds right and proper, but let’s break it down: I was the interim music director of a modest mainline-denominational church in the exurbs of Chicago. I had signed something like a 7-month contract, but I took this as an invitation to take over the most prominent week of the liturgical calendar with a wildly ambitious, multi-movement musical extravaganza which I began writing 4 months before it would be performed.

To say that the clergy were unbelievably supportive (and perhaps naïve) in letting an untested 22-year-old with barely any ecclesiastical experience do such a thing would be an understatement, and I still owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

My stint as interim music director came to an end two weeks after Easter 2006, but the congregation banded together to commission more music from me, this time for Advent.

The result when the two sections are added together is a life-of-Christ oratorio that treads the same basic path as Handel’s Messiah. My version is much shorter though, clocking in at just over an hour.

I’ve played the whole piece in concert twice (with some new orchestrations), and individual movements have been done liturgically all over the place. The musical forces vary from piece to piece because I had a different set of musicians on each of the days of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday).

The whole piece, in order, is in the YouTube link above. You can visit pages devoted to the individual movements (and purchase sheet music) below:

Overture

Part I: The Nativity

Chorus: “Prepare Ye The Way”

Soprano Solo: Magnificat

Chorus: “Glory to God”

Part II: The Passion

Fanfare I

Introit: “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion”

Chorus: The Triumphal Entry (“Hosanna in the Highest”)

Recitative & Chorus: “The Transgressions of the Wicked”

Fanfare II

Maundy Thursday

Solo Quartet: “I am the True Vine”

Good Friday

Kyrie

Chorus: Jesus on Trial (“Crucify Him!”)

Chorus: “And the Lord Shall Deliver Me”

Psalm 22

Solo: “My Soul Thirsteth”

Strepitus

Part III: The Resurrection

Easter Sunday

Fanfare III

Introit: “This is the Day that the Lord Hath Made”

Recitative & Chorus: “Thanks Be to God!”

Duet: “For I Know that my Redeemer Liveth”

Alleluia

Overture to Thy King Cometh

A moody piece for string orchestra, this movement opens my oratorio and is supposed to represent the 3 Wise Men wandering through the desert.  There’s a bunch of little harmonics in the violin texture representing the twinkling of the star.

The opening violin solo is played by one of my best friends, and longtime collaborators, the incomparable Carlos Villarreal.

Here’s a clip from the recording session: