The Story of the Virtual Hymn “O Day Full of Grace”
During Lent of 2020, churches around the world suspended liturgies as a pandemic spread its way around the entire globe, sending people around the world into isolation. Current communities of the faithful had never had to consider faith-life without very regular assemblies for worship. Church musicians had spent their entire efforts “bringing together” – to develop, nurture and encourage a powerful instrument: the assembly at song.
As the world arrived at Easter, many Cantors (Church musicians) were somewhat in a state of shock that we would be going through Holy Week without these gatherings. Many had adapted to new methods of encouraging worship to continue – aided by technology, but nevertheless in isolation, without the ability to accomplish corporate singing.
On Easter Sunday, the Episcopal Church released its video of the hymn “The Strife is O’er” which was put together in a short time span. It was very moving, and encouraging to many: to see the church singing together – young voices, older voices, instruments – over 800 people responded with pent-up energy and desire to once again sing together – even if in isolation. This inspired Lutherans to follow their example.
In early May, a plan was proposed to Jim Rindelaub (Executive Director, ALCM) by David Cherwien (ALCM member, Cantor, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, and Artistic Director, National Lutheran Choir). The proposal was that ALCM, with its very congregational-song-centric 1,700-person membership, could launch a similar thing for Lutherans to use in their virtual liturgies on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020. The National Lutheran Choir could help provide what was needed to launch this effort.
ALCM researched the company that helped produce the Episcopal Easter Hymn, and inquired about a project for Lutherans. Kory Caudill, President of Inside Music Nashville, was happy to take this on. Funding was found by ALCM through the generosity of Pauline and John Kiltinen. Cherwien and the National Lutheran Choir scrambled over one weekend to produce the arrangement and the initial 8 voice and organ parts with which others could create submissions. The initial hope was for at least 400 participants. (This number was surpassed by over 900)
The Hymn “O Day Full of Grace” was chosen, a hymn known to most Lutherans. This choice was solidified by a letter the ALCM membership received from very active and longtime friend, board-member Norma Aamodt-Nelson. The letter was sharing the news of her entering hospice; the end-of-life time for her due to cancer. In this letter she quoted the final stanza “When we on our final journey go, ….we’ll gather in song, our hearts aglow . . .”
The arrangement had to be simple, with a very predictable introduction and interludes as to indicate clearly the point at which to breathe and sing in time. Two stanzas were arranged for 4-part high and 4-part low voices (one for each), the standard hymnal harmonization was included, and a unison with descant final stanza. Instrumental parts (kept simple as to encourage all ages) were also created and made available.
The invitation net was cast as wide as possible – including internationally. In the end there were over 1,300 video submissions – 960 singers, 364 instrumentalists. Kory Caudill of Nashville received these, and within one week his company edited them all together, to release in various formats for churches to include in their virtual worship materials for Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Soli deo gloria
Please participate in the ALCM Virtual Hymn Project
You are invited to participate in the creation of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians Virtual Hymn for Pentecost Project. Please follow the instructions below and be sure to submit your recording by Friday, May 15.
Watch this example for an idea of what we are creating: Episcopal Church Virtual Choir
Note the virtual hymn we are creating is O Day Full of Grace arranged by David Cherwien.
- Choose your part from the below options. Please print the PDF for your voice/instrumental part. Singers will see the keyboard part printed so you know when to come in. There are 10 voice parts to choose from: Hymn melody only high voice, hymn melody only low voice, and choral parts: Soprano 1, 2, Alto 1, 2, Tenor 1, 2, Bass 1, 2. There are also parts for woodwind, brass, and string instruments. Parts are not designed to be difficult but may require basic music reading or practice.
- Every voice part will have a guide video which includes an organ part and your own voice part (or if you prefer you can use the full choral guide part.) There is an organ guide part for the instrumentalists.
You will NEED:
- A phone with a video recorder to record yourself
- A computer or tablet to play the guide video
- Headphones to hear the guide video (preferably small in-ear headphones, but don’t worry if you don’t have those)
- The score you print out
- A QUIET place to record yourself
- Attire: This virtual hymn will first be included in worship on Pentecost Sunday. If you would like to wear something RED to celebrate Pentecost that is appropriate, but not mandatory.
- Practice your part with the recording until you feel comfortable. (Notice that the organ intro is 9.5 measures long and each organ interlude is 7.5 measures long.) Note the dynamics written, and sing/play each note to its full value.
- When ready to record follow the instructions in the video. State your vocal/instrumental part and say, “full take.” As soon as the audio track starts you will hear the organ play short notes. Say “3, 4” with the conductor and then listen to the intro before singing/playing. At the end be sure to wait for the instruction “relax, turn off your video recorder” before you turn your recorder off. That instruction is preceded by several seconds of the instruction “HOLD…”
- Once you are happy with your recording it is IMPORTANT to save your file using the following File Name format which includes a period between each word/number: (example if you are singing the soprano 2 part)
To rename your video file on Mac OS and Windows: Right click the file name and select “rename” from the scroll down menu. Upload your file to the correct folder in our system at:
Remember to use your Full Name and Voice or Instrument Part with periods between as seen in the above example. A working email will be required to submit your video, which will only be used to send you a confirmation that your file has been uploaded. Your recording will be 4½ to 5 minutes in length and will have silence during interludes and other rests. Expect the upload process to take several minutes. If the upload does not go through, contact Kory at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Invite others to participate in this virtual hymn project. Recordings must be submitted by Friday, May 15.
Please know we intend to make the finished hymn available by late afternoon on Tuesday, May 26. Please check this web page for the link.
Click the button to download sheet music and a sing-along track for your vocal part.
Click the button to download sheet music and a play-along track for your instrument.
Tips for recording a great video:
Record your video on your laptop, tablet, or phone.
If you’re using a tablet or phone, make sure your phone is horizontal (landscape) and not vertical (portrait). If at all possible, use a tripod for your device or sit the device on something sturdy and stationery.
Find a quiet place and use an external microphone if you have one (but not required!).
You don’t need to rent a studio to film your part. But, do your best to make sure the ambient noise (dishwashers, fire trucks, barking dogs, TVs, etc.) is at a minimum. The goal is to get a good, clean sound.
Use headphones to listen to the backing track you click on while reading the sheet music. You don’t want that audio to be in your video – just your voice / instrument!
Position yourself in the center of the shot, and make sure you’re filling up the frame.
Save your file.
Use any standard video file format. .mp4, .mov, .avi all work great.
When you name your file, use this standard naming convention:
Your.Name.Your.Part.mp4 (or .mov, etc.)
Produced with deep gratitude to hymn setting arranger David Cherwien, the National Lutheran Choir,
and Lutheran Summer Music for their partnership in sharing musical and technical resources.
Made possible through the generous financial support of Pauline and John Kiltinen.