The Truth From Above

“The Truth From Above,” aka “[This Is] the Truth Sent From Above,” and sometimes known as “The Herefordshire Carol,” is an English folk melody that was collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1909, used in his Fantasia on Christmas Carols (1912), and published in Eight Traditional English Carols (1919).

Its text tells of God’s creation of man and woman, their placement in Paradise, their sin and its subsequent consequences for all humanity, the nativity of Christ, His example and teaching, and His promise of salvation for all who believe in Him. Another text, “The Great Forerunner of the Morn,” which tells of John the Baptist’s preparation for the Christ, is also sung to the tune.

The Dorian-mode melody uses the first through fifth tones, and the seventh tone, of that mode. Although collected by Vaughan Williams just after the turn of the 20th century, its chant-like quality, both melodically and rhythmically, is reminiscent of centuries-old music.

This arrangement features solo tuba on the first presentation of the tune followed by the full ensemble in full harmony, a key change and canonic presentation by horn and trombone, and a return to the original key and concluding statement by full ensemble with harmonic variation.

View a performance by the Nicaea Brass, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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

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