Deck Thyself, My Soul, With Gladness (SCHMÜCKE DICH)

“Deck Thyself, My Soul, With Gladness” (“Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele”) is one of the great eucharistic, or communion, hymns of the Church. Written by the German poet Johann Franck (1618-1677) and translated to English by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), the text is an expression of joy and reverence for “the wondrous banquet” of “blessed food from heaven” given by Jesus, the founder of the feast and Himself the Bread of Life. See representative verses here (PDF opens in a new tab).

Johann Crüger composed the chorale tune SCHMÜCKE DICH and published it with the first stanza of Franck’s text in his Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien (Spiritual Church Tunes) in 1649. J.S. Bach used the melody in his Cantata 180, and many composers have written organ preludes on it. Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote the familiar harmonization of the tune for The English Hymnal of 1906.

This arrangement for brass quintet adapts themes from “Canon in D” by German composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) as introduction, interlude, and ending, and intersperses short motives from it with the chorale tune.

Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba) — $12.99