Who Puts His Trust In God Most Just- Blog
In our band classes at Woodbury High, we have a common saying: “There’s a reason you’re not in choir.” Although some of our musicians have incredible vocal talent, there is a big difference between projecting your voice and hiding behind an instrument. One of our pieces challenges us not with rapid tonguing or heavy articulation, but rather with full tone and the dreaded ‘choral score’. Apart from a few soloists, the Woodbury High School Concert Band takes on the role of a choir in ‘Who Puts His Trust In God Most Just’, conceived by J.S. Bach and arranged by James Croft for band.
If you don’t know who Johann Sebastian Bach is, ask the person next to you. James Croft was the director of bands at Florida State University, and the arrangement of this piece is what brought him to fame. Born in September 15, 1929, James Croft was a very esteemed musician, winning accolades such as being named one of ten Outstanding Music Educators by The School Musician, the Midwest Clinic’s Medal of Honor, and being added to the National Band Association’s Hall of Fame. Upon Croft’s death in 2012, graduate students from his band commissioned Frank Ticheli to write a symphony, and the result is a three movement symphony. We play the third and final movement of the symphony, “Apollo Unleashed”, for the concert. Go read about it.
Occasionally, our warm-up for the band will include a chorale- not sung, but played. Typically, we play it, and then forget about it as soon as warm-ups finish. There are many fundamentals at play in this- tone development, balance, pulse- but then we get to a song like Galop and we can only focus on tempo and volume. ‘Who Puts His Trust In God Most Just’ instead intensifies these fundamentals, to be played every time with consistency.
The most difficult part of the chorale is a simple answer for a band (and our band especially) - the choral parts. Although some members of the band have experience in singing and reading choral music, most of the band has little to no experience at all with this new concept. The first challenge was finding our vocal range - soprano, alto, tenor, or bass. Then, it was finding where our parts fit in with each other. The beautiful choral harmonies found in this piece can be difficult to express if the reader has no idea how to interpret that kind of music. The third and the most troublesome challenge of this piece is blending our singing like how we would blend our playing. In reference to the pyramid of sound, the basses have to project their sound the most, followed by tenors, then altos, and lastly sopranos. It took a lot of practice to perfect the vocal parts of this arrangement. A huge thanks to Mr. Timmer, Woodbury’s choir director, for helping the band sound great!
The piece “Who Puts His Trust in God Most Just” can have many different interpretations. Although the piece does contain Christian elements, it can be interpreted in a neutral way. One interpretation could be the following: If you have faith in what you do and what you believe, you will surely end up prosperous. If you look at the piece through the perspective of a Christian, the piece could be interpreted as having faith in Jesus Christ and God will surely lead you to heaven. It can be difficult to find different interpretations of the piece, because lyrics cannot always be interpreted the same as any other form of music. There is a more rigid message that is portrayed through the music, one that you don’t find in orchestra or band arrangements.
Our band’s favorite part of the piece has to be the moment where we all come in, in unison, singing instead of playing. Who expects a band to sing a bit in a concert, nevermind for almost the entirety of a piece? The long and beautiful chime solo at the beginning, by Garrett Strain, and the instrumental solos during the choral parts also add to the uniqueness of the piece. The warm, beautiful tones of the singing combined with the wind solos should bring about this feeling of peace with yourself, knowing that you will be safe. The piece climaxes at the end when everyone plays a rich A♭ chord, which gives the audience confidence and sets them at ease. There are not any new music theory concepts introduced through this piece, but reading through the choral score proved itself to be a challenge for our group.
http://www.windrep.org/Who_Puts_His_Trust_in_God_Most_Just_(arr_Croft) (short summary of piece)
http://www.maestroandfox.com/Maestro_&_Fox_Music/James_Croft.html (info on James Croft)