When my son asked if I could try to score something for his high school choir, a group of about seventy voices, I wondered at what to do. Finally, I hit upon the idea of arranging this old Irish hymn tune in a somewhat unusual and particularly rich fashion.
When writing for a larger choir, there are some things one can do that can't be done with a smaller choir. For example, in this piece there are some rather lengthy sections that are intended to be done with stagger breathing throughout. This compliments a tune which I have always wished could be sung with a tube in the back feeding an endless supply of air to the lungs so it could be done seamlessly and without a break.
Choir directors will appreciate that there are no dynamic markings, tempos, breath marks, etc., in this piece. I have left all interpretation completely up to the director. Since this is a download-and-print-your-own deal, it should be easy enough to mark up one copy the way you want to do it and distribute it to the group.
The vocal ranges are pretty moderate, though I will admit to writing too low for most sopranos in some spots. Fortunately, those passages are in places where it should be easy to get some help from the alto section. In one section, the altos and sopranos divide into two parts each, making that section six-part harmony. I did not feel this would be much of a hardship on most choirs, as women normally outnumber men about two to one anyway, especially in scholastic choirs.
The lyric used is the same four verses commonly associated with this hymn tune. Because of the techniques required and the vocal challenge of this piece, it should not be a problem to use it in a public school setting in most of the USA.