Meditations on an Old Scottish Hymn Tune
by Robert Jager

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Grade
5

Robert Jager was born in Binghamton, New York (1939), and is a graduate of The University of Michigan. Four four years he served in the United State Navy as the Staff Arranger/Composer at the Armed Forces School of Music. Jager is now retired and is professor emeritus at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee. Jager’s credits comprise over 120 published works for band, orchestra, chorus, and various chamber combinations. Jager has received many awards for his compositions, including being the only three-time winner of the American Bandmasters Association “Ostwald Award.” He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Bandmasters Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Phi, and an “Honorary Member” of the Women’s Band Directors Association.

Year of composition: 1993

Publisher: Kjos Music

Grade: 5

Type of composition: Free-fantasia style of hymn tune “Old 107th”

Style: slow and free

Programming Suggestions: Meditations on an Old Scottish Hymn Tune was commissioned by the Nebraska Wesleyan University Wind Ensemble, Dr. Herbert Dregalla, Jr. conductor. The hymn is the “Old 107th” from the Scottish Psalter of 1565, and this composition treats that tune in a “free-fantasia” style.

Solo instruments: trumpet offstage

Anecdotal notes: The hymn tune is first presented by an offstage trumpet to the somber accompaniment of onstage winds and percussion. The procession-like melody is gradually transformed from this dark first statement to one of majesty, and is continued by a pipe organ interruption as a song of praise. Following this, a more plaintive version of the hymn tune is heard, which in turn becomes a fugal alleluia. After a brief climax the music returns to its somber beginnings, but this time with a feeling of hope and purpose. A long crescendo, both in terms of dynamics and instrumentation occurs, and brings the work to a glorious close. The piece does require the organ part to give it a characteristic sound. The trumpet offstage should be placed so when played, it has the desired dynamic level inside the auditorium. The piece is rather slow and lyrical. Syncopated rhythms are played often against downbeat passages. The piece uses ritards and rubatos to form transitions in the next section. Several meter changes with simple time for a measure and one section is in 6/8. Requires a large assortment of percussion: bell tree, wind chimes, 2 triangles, tam-tam. Trumpet solo offstage does not return to play during piece. The 1st trumpet has some exposed passages that should be played by a strong player too.

Discography: contact www.rjager.com

Recording of "Meditations on an Old Scottish Hymn Tune"