The first time I heard the group Blue Highway sing their a capella version of What Wondrous Love, my jaw dropped.
"Yes!" I shouted -- "I have got to have that melody!" The choral arrangement they sang was completely captivating, like a bluegrass version of the old Shapenote hymn. "Someday I'll figure that out," I told myself.
This is a choral arrangement (though instruments can take the place of vocal parts) of the Bluegrass-sounding version of What Wondrous Love.
Check out the unusual rendition of the hymn in the video below, by the group Blue Heaven:
My arrangement is not exactly the same, but is modeled after the style of Blue Heaven.
Recently 8 of my female vocal students sang it at our end-of-the-year recital, and the performance was riveting. I had them perform it like this:
Well, alright, there is the occasional intonation problem, but there are also moments of beauty!
One young lady started solo, on verse 1.
She was joined on verse 2 by two sopranos, and she dropped to the "monotone" or pedal-point single note of the Voice 2 part.
At verse 3, two more sopranos joined the Voice 1 part, while my heretofore silent mezzo-sopranos hummed along with Voice 1, and a very strong and low singer (my daughter!) took the Voice 3 part alone.
Soloist #1 continued with the single-note part.
Then at verse 4, the two mezzo-sopranos opened their mouths and sang the Voice 4 part. Page 4:
At the end of verse 4, all voices dropped out, and the soloist who began the song sang (in a super-expressive and slower style, now that everyone was "gone"), just the first two phrases of verse one over again:
"What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul, oh my soul? What wondrous love is this, oh my soul." (That return to verse 1 is not written into the music.)
A beginning group CAN learn this song, and learn it quickly.
At first it is hard to hold on to the melody, but after getting used to the sound of the almost-dissonant 2nds, and the open 4ths and 5ths, my little choir leaned into their parts. Adding Voice 4 is the hardest.
Why Buy From Me?
So why should you buy this arrangement of What Wondrous Love from me, aside from the very important fact that this arrangement can't be found anywhere else, and choral music from other suppliers must be bought in batches of six, while I am only charging $5.00 for unlimited copies?
* It is available immediately as a digital download onto your computer.
* You don't have to download any new software into your computer in order to download this PDF. I don't know about you, but I detest clogging up my computer with yet another program I didn't know I needed. You just need a version of Adobe Acrobat or another PDF reader, which all computers come with. If you DON'T have Adobe Acrobat or a similar program, then you couldn't download any of my other PDFs either.
* The notes and lyrics are comfortably large, making reading easier!
*Write and make notes all over these copies, in red and other colors, without feeling you are spoiling your music for posterity. I hate messing up my music books, but learning the piece is always the first priority. These printouts will make great working copies.
* I give you permission to make unlimited copies (for your group only). Do I speak tongue-in-cheek? Not at all -- as music teachers, as music students, you know there are times when you need music RIGHT NOW and your only recourse is to make a copy of copyrighted music...or do without. People do what they have to do, but there are consequences. Your church or school choir will learn that copying music is "JUST WHAT EVERYONE DOES... " Please don't teach them that. Music teachers teach by example. What are your students learning from you about the value of the work of composers, arrangers, publishers and TEACHERS?
*Paypal, the payment system I use, is a secure and recognized payment system. You can pay by credit or debit card, or your bank account. E-Junkie delivers the PDF document, working as a partner with PayPal...your purchase is guaranteed.
* And, Oh, yes! It is only $5.00 for the total cost of giving this piece to your choral group, and they will think it is really cool.
Tip for Printing
Once you've got the PDF file for What Wondrous Love choral arrangement, feed just one page at a time, unless you know you have high-quality paper which won't grab extra sheets when being pulled through the feeder.