Composer: Christopher J. HohDetailsFormat: Mixed Choir - 4 voicesVoicing: SATBAccompaniment: unaccompaniedNotation: standardPerformance Length: 10:30 Study Scores & Audio FilesStudy Score & Audio Order Printed ScoresPublisher: Hoh Made Music Order site / Alternate source of score: J. W. Pepper Texts & TranslationsLanguage(s): EnglishText Source: Shaker Music: Inspirational Hymns & Melodies. Mt. Lebanon Colony, NY; 1875. Text: To The Spirit Land We're Hastening To the spirit land we’re hastening, golden moments flit before, While each sunset brings us nearer to its seeming distant shore; Yet upon her snowy pinions, faith will lift our hearts to see, In the life that is before us, blessed immortality. Oft its pearly gates are opened, floods of glory thro’ them come; And we catch a glimpse of beauty –– just a foresight of our home. Oh, it is by holy living that we gain an entrance there; For communion with the angels, spotless robes we must prepare. Yet we ask their ministration while we tarry here below, And that ever round our pathway light increasing still may glow. If our lives are fraught with goodness, and the seed of love we sow, We shall reap abundant blessing, and the joy of angels know. Sweetest Music Softly Stealing Sweetest music softly stealing O'er our hearts in tuneful chime, Shall in joyous notes revealing, Swell the song of olden times. When the morning star was beaming, Angels sang of peace and love; Many souls awoke from dreaming, Hail'd the light from Heaven above. Gladsome sounds we echo still, Peace on earth, to all goodwill. Wake we now to joy and gladness, Christ the Saviour we have found; Banish from our hearts all sadness, And in deeds of love abound. Now the fount of good unsealing, Let us all our souls upfill; And in kindly Christian feeling Breathe sweet peace and speak goodwill. Gladsome sounds we echo still, Peace on earth, to all goodwill. Blest Zion, I Love Thee Blest Zion, I love thee, thou beautiful city... Home, my sweet home, with the pure and the just; Away, far away from turmoil and confusion — From sorrows of earth — where my soul finds rest. Earth hath no treasures, sin hath no pleasures, I would exchange for that peace which I feel; A conscience unspotted, with confidence blessed, Angels my guard, and the Lord's will my seal. Programming AidsPerformance Difficulty: moderately easySeasonal Usage: ChristmasHoly Guardian AngelsDescriptive Terms: faithheavenpeaceangelsAmericanaredemptionAllow Excerpts: YesComposer’s Notes: These three delightful Shaker hymns from the 1800's may be performed individually or in combination. Faith's Vision (To the Spirit Land We're Hastening) focuses on the glory and beauty of heaven and the need for holy living on earth to gain entrance there. Christmas Offering (Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing) connects joyful notes to angel songs of peace, goodwill and love. Blest Zion (Blest Zion, I Love Thee) extols a home of justice and purity away from earth's turmoil and confusion, bringing peace and confidence. To The Spirit Land We’re Hastening: This choral anthem presents "Faith's Vision," from the collection published for the Shaker community at Mt. Lebanon, NY, entitled Shaker Music, Original Inspirational Hymns and Songs Illustrative of the Resurrection Life and Testimony of the Shakers. The author is unknown. The original music is a homophonic, three-verse hymn. In this setting, the third verse reproduces the Shaker music. In the Mt. Lebanon hymnal it is marked "Dolce," so a gentle style and moderate tempo seem suited to the aesthetic of the original. While my music seeks to elaborate and extend the hymn, I have used relatively simple harmonies, rhythms and motifs. I would like to think there is nothing in this composition that would have been alien to a Shaker musician of the late 1800's. This piece also reflects, I hope, the joyful, dancing spirit for which the Shakers were known. Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing: This anthem sets "Christmas Offering," from an 1875 hymnal published in Albany, NY. It has been attributed to Martha Jane Anderson and the Shaker community at Mt. Lebanon, NY. The first phrase (but little else) is similar to "Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing," words by G.W. Brindley, music by C. (Caleb?) Simper. That Christmas hymn is found in the monumental collection "Carols Old and Carols New" of Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916). Which hymn came first and whether one helped inspire the other are questions for further research. In any case, it is a sweet text and tune, with repeated lines providing an echo of gladsome sounds. And its message is timeless. Blest Zion, I Love Thee: This forthright hymn evidently traveled from the Shakers in Maine to New York. Its text consists of a single, eight-line stanza and its robust melody spans an octave and a half. At first the whole choir presents the tune in unison. Then sopranos and altos sing it again while tenors and basses accompany with a repeated figure on "blessed Zion." Next sopranos and altos embrace and develop the accompaniment as tenors and basses burst forth with the theme. Energy builds and they break into octaves, with sopranos and altos following in canon. The piece ends with a calm repetition of the last line. The Shakers danced and marched in their worship; this hymn seems to convey that feeling — starting strong, growing in excitement, reaching a high point and winding down in quiet confidence. Additional InformationDate of Completion: March, 2007Date of First Performance: Friday, June 27, 2008Premier Performance Data: Musikanten Montana Chamber Singers (Kerry Krebill, cond), Myrna Loy Center, Helena, MTAdditional Performances: "Blest Zion" — Nov. 5, 2012, T-Tones Chorus (Kathryn Schultz, cond.) U.S. Dept. of State, Washington, D.C. "Blest Zion" — Nov. 2, 2008 (Daniel Elmer, cond.) St. Monica & St. James Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C. "To The Spirit Land" — Feb. 8, 2008 (Kerry Krebill, cond.) St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral, Helena, MT. "Sweetest Music" — December 2007 (Daniel Elmer, cond.) St. Monica & St. James Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.