When I Hear The Trumpet Sound – Unterseher

TTBB, unaccompanied

A dark, intense setting of the Civil War era hymn from Southern Harmony. This setting explores the religious fervor of a soldier preparing to go into battle, steadying himself with visions of the endless pleasures of the afterlife.

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PROGRAM NOTES

The story of old generals indoctrinating young warriors with religious fervor to get them to put aside their better judgment and march into certain death is not new, nor is it limited to one particular religious group or another. In this hymn from the American Civil War, we hear the soldier’s belief that this world, where he is alive, is merely a “vain world of sin” and that his death will be followed by an afterlife where he will, with his “precious Savior, drink endless pleasures in.” In that war, somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 soldiers died, with single battle losses ranging into the tens of thousands. The scars persist.

NOTES ON PREPARATION AND PERFORMANCE

The opening texture alternates between a few singers using a clearer, stronger tone and the full group in a hushed, almost whispered. breathy tone. This piece should be sung with a manic, fanatical assurance, until the very end, when the underlying fear and uncertainty are left unresolved.

TEXT

John Leland, 1793
Tune: B. F. White, 1844

Oh when shall I see Jesus and reign with him above,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?
And from the flowing fountain drink everlasting love,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?

Oh, shout glory! I shall rise above the skies
When I hear the trumpet sound in that morning.

When shall I be delivered from this vain world of sin,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?
And with my precious Savior drink endless pleasures in,
and shall hear the trumpet sound in that morning?

Oh, shout glory! I shall rise above the skies
When I hear the trumpet sound in that morning.

 

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About Reginald Unterseher

Reginald Unterseher is Music Director and Composer-in-Residence at Shalom United Church of Christ, Richland, Washington. His works are published by Oxford University Press, Walton Music, and through NW Choral Publishing at www.reginaldunterseher.com. He is the Washington State Music Teacher’s Association’s “Composer of the Year” for 2013. Mr. Unterseher’s compositions are regularly performed throughout the world and have been featured at ACDA and MENC conventions in the US as well as at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He currently serves as Repertoire & Standards Chair for Men’s Choirs for the Northwest Division of the American Choral Director’s Association, and is in demand as a choral and vocal adjudicator and clinician. Mr. Untereseher is a past Artistic Director of Consort Columbia (now Mid-Columbia Mastersingers), founder and past Chorus Master of Washington East Opera, and an active member of Male Ensemble Northwest.