Click to enlargePraise To Thee and Adoration (cello duet)

Back in 1551, when Louis Bourgeois penned a set of hymn tunes that were to be published in the Genevan Psalter, he may have recognized the modern cello, but he would not have had the faintest inkling of using computers and the internet to transmit downloadable musical scores.

Despite technological change, at least two or three of Louis Bourgeois' hymn tunes have been passed down to church hymnals that will continue in use well into the 21st century. I guess if your music can stay in use for almost six hundred years, you've done pretty well as a composer.

The most popular of Bourgeois' tunes is OLD HUNDREDTH, which is used commonly as the tune for the Doxology (Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...). Perhaps his tune for the 42nd Psalm is less well known, but it is still used in many church traditions. The tune is known in various hymnals as GENEVAN 42 or BOURGEOIS, and has been used with a variety of texts. One set of words penned by T. Kingo in 1689 begins, "Praise to Thee and Adoration, Blessed Jesus, Son of God..." It is the source of the title of this piece. An alternate title (fine with me if you want to call it this) would be "Comfort, Comfort Ye My People."

A careful listener may notice that the piece alternates between major and minor keys with the same tonic, the hymn tune always appearing in major (or a related key) with the "framing phrases" appearing in minor. This was just a stylistic choice and nothing special should be read into it. I have been listening to a lot of J. S. Bach's music lately, so I will admit to a strong influence in the feel of this setting, and to possibly unintentionally borrowing a musical idea or two from him. On this account I believe I am in some pretty good company. The flow of the two parts is such that it is more natural to have the players cross voices rather than always keeping the lead with one of the two players. This results in both parts containing the same material, just in a different order, therefore, this piece, while not sounding that way, can be considered as a very long and well-concealed round. This is mentioned only to point out that the players will need to be well matched as to skill and tone quality. There is no lead/accompaniment structure to this duet.

Other bass clef instruments will be able to make good use of this piece, most notably two bassoons, two euphoniums, or two trombones. Mixing instruments might be interesting, but would give the piece a much different flavor because of the lead-switching mentioned above.

The occasion for writing this piece was a request by an enthusiastic customer of www.tributek.com. Her exact words were: "...since you asked about my "dream" piece, I'd like GENEVAN 42 (87 87 77 88) set for two cellos (good luck!)." What do you think of it, Sharon?

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



PRAISE TO THEE AND ADORATION for two cellos, by Tom Kirkland, comes in a PDF file of 1008K that contains three pages of musical score and a license page, four pages in all. Performance time should be around 3:15.


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Last update: 27 September 2017