Click to enlargeBehold a Host (TTBB with baritone solo)

Den store hvide flok vi se som tusind bjerge fuld af sne....

This old Danish hymn was originally penned by H. A. Brorson in 1765. There have been at least two tunes associated with these words in Denmark, but the tune that seems to have survived the hop across the Atlantic to North America is the one set to the Norwegian translation in 1906 by Edvard Greig. He used an old Norwegian folk tune with an appropriate meter and created a rich harmonization that survives in many hymnals to this day.

There seems to have been (or perhaps still is) a tradition of male choruses perfoming this piece in Norway. The male chorus is one of the most interesting of ensembles to arrange for, since the mature male voice can come in a variety of ranges which, when combined in a chorus, gives the composer nearly three usable octaves of vocal sound of similar timbre to work with. The sounds can be quite full and rich, as the harmonies are often of necessity quite close, but the range allows for a vast pallette of expression. It is not that a male chorus is necessarily better than any other vocal ensemble, it just offers a unique setting for any piece.

The text for this piece is from Revelation 7, where John describes a great crowd of the redeemed singing before the throne of God. While there are two additional stanzas of the Danish hymn that go on to more fully describe the scene, this edition contains only the first stanza, since it conveys the message and feeling quite well without undue repetition, and makes a complete short anthem with a concise message.

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Behold a host array'd in white,
Like a thousand snow-clad mountains bright.
With palms they stand, who are this band, before the throne of light?

Lo, these are they of glorious fame,
Who from the great affliction came,
And in the flood of Jesus blood, are cleansed from guilt and shame.

Now gather'd in the holy place,
Their voices they in worship raise.
Their anthems swell where God doth dwell 'mid angels' songs of praise.

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Mr. Oliver Mogck (1920-2000) was teaching music at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota when he performed the solo in this piece as director of the college's Male Chorus. It was a special number that he included in the repertoire during the Bethel Male Chorus' tour of northern Europe in 1978. The copy of this piece that was transcribed to produce this edition was in Mr. Mogck's own hand and there is a possibility that he re-voiced the original Greig or made some other adjustments, but since he did not credit himself as an arranger in his manuscript we elected to follow his lead. There is no intent on the part of the publisher to slight this great man or his memory in any way. He always enjoyed singing this piece, as he loved great sacred music his entire life.

MP3 sound sample: Entire piece (synthesizer/midi).



BEHOLD A HOST The English translation of the first stanza of Brorson's Danish hymn "Den Store Hvide Flok" set to a Norwegian folk tune arranged by Edvard Greig for a cappella TTBB choir with a baritone soloist carrying the melody, comes in a PDF file of 960K that contains a three page full score plus a license page, four pages in all. Performance time should be around 2:15.


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Last update: 13 September 2017