I Heard the Bells

Everybody loves Christmas bells. Except perhaps Colin Buchanan.

I Heard the Bells

Do you hear the bells; they’re ringing? (Peace on earth)
Like the angels singing (Peace on earth)
Open up your heart and hear them! (Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace is right up there on the International Leaderboard of Christmas Words, just south of Joy, and adjacent to Hope. It is also generally considered a good idea.

Casting Crowns released this song in 2008, but most of the words are from the 1863 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The chronic lack of peace experienced by Longfellow echoes the experience of many today. Everyone wants peace; we just don’t know how to get there. Education? Eliminating poverty? Free U2 albums for everybody?

Using this song during our community carols allows us to point to the only true solution. We’ve used it over many years, and the arrangement below has been rewritten at least twice. Hopefully improved.

This arrangement is fairly close to the Casting Crowns version, except with an additional choir/instrumental chorus. It uses instrumental quotes from the melody of O Little Town of Bethlehem. The intention is to connect peace with the coming of Jesus.

It’s lower than the original, and can be sung by male or female (soprano) vocals. The written solo melody should be treated as more of a guideline than a rule.

recording

Recording by the Orchestra Sibelius.

Instrumentation

  • Flutes (Piccolo, 1, 2)
  • Clarinets (1, 2, Bass)
  • Saxophones (Alto 1, Alto 2, Tenor, Bari)
  • French Horn
  • Trumpet (1, 2, 3)
  • Trombone (1, 2)
  • Euphonium
  • Drum Kit
  • Glockenspiel
  • Bass Guitar
  • Piano
  • Vocal Solo
  • Choir (Soprano, Alto)

Downloads

I Heard the Bells – Full Score

I Heard the Bells – Parts

He Who Is Mighty

Christmas is truly here.

Well, not truly. I’m just finally getting around to cleaning up and posting some of my concert band arrangements in the hope that they might prove useful.

He Who is Mighty

Oh, the mercy our God has shown
To those who sit in death’s shadow
The sun on high pierced the night
Born was the Cornerstone

We’ve used this song during our community carols in 2016 and 2017. The imagery is beautiful, and I tried to capture some of the mystery and wonder of Christmas in the instrumentation. Like Who Would Have Dreamed, it’s from the Sovereign Grace Music album Prepare Him Room.

This arrangement does require a fairly strong upper woodwind section, and parts within each section do not always follow each other. This can be difficult for younger musicians.

There is also no notated piano part as yet. I played from the chord chart. I’ll pretend that was intentional, and not because I’m a terrible sight reader.

This arrangement is a half step higher than the original, in F Major. Sovereign Grace have an unrelated orchestral arrangement available as well.

Recording

Again, a Sibelius special. The vocal part is not present in the recording.

Instrumentation

  • Flutes (Piccolo, 1, 2, 3)
  • Oboe (doubles Flute 3), Bassoon (doubles Bass Clarinet)
  • Clarinets (1, 2, 3, Bass)
  • Saxophones (Alto 1, Alto 2, Tenor, Bari)
  • French Horn
  • Trumpet (1, 2, 3)
  • Trombone (1, 2, 3)
  • Euphonium (or Trombone 4)
  • Tuba
  • Timpani
  • Percussion (Drum Kit, Suspended Cymbal)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Bass Guitar
  • Lead Sheet
  • Vocals

Downloads

He Who Is Mighty – Full Score

He Who Is Mighty – Parts

He Who Is Mighty – Audio

Who Would Have Dreamed

It’s probably a criminal offence to be thinking about Christmas carols in March, but such is life. Or, more accurately, if I don’t start thinking about it now, I’m going to be in serious trouble come October.

We’ve been running a carols event for our local community for a number of years, and I’ve written a few arrangements for concert band. You may find them useful.

Who Would Have Dreamed

And who would have dreamed or ever foreseen
That we could hold God in our hands?
The Giver of Life is born in the night
Revealing God’s glorious plan
To save the world

I first ran into this song on a family road trip between Darwin and Cairns. As you do. It’s from the Sovereign Grace Music album Prepare Him Room, and we’ve used it for the past three years.

It’s one of my favourite Christmas songs, and I’ll let the author introduce it.

This arrangement mostly follows the form of the original, and it’s a half step lower in E Major. Most concert bands do not take kindly to E Major.

Note that Sovereign Grace have an orchestral arrangement available for sale. This arrangement is unrelated. I do not own any rights to this song.

Recording:

This was generated using Sibelius, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of realism.

Instrumentation:

  • Flutes (Piccolo, 1, 2)
  • Oboe (or Flute 3), Bassoon (doubles Bass Clarinet)
  • Clarinets (1, 2, 3, Bass)
  • Saxophones (Alto 1, Alto 2, Tenor, Bari)
  • French Horn
  • Trumpet (1, 2, 3)
  • Trombone (1, 2, 3)
  • Euphonium (or Trombone 4)
  • Tuba
  • Timpani
  • Percussion (Drum Kit, Suspended Cymbal, Shaker)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Piano
  • Bass Guitar
  • Lead Sheet
  • Alto Vocal Solo
  • Choir (Soprano, Alto)

Downloads:

Who Would Have Dreamed – Full Score

Who Would Have Dreamed – Parts

Who Would Have Dreamed – Audio