I’m very happy to write my first blog entry for Fred Bock Music about my first publication in the distinguished Hinshaw catalog. My setting of the old French hymn, “Now the Green Blade Rises,” is scheduled to be released in the late summer of this year (2019). The tune and text are most appropriate for Easter and Eastertide, though a case can be made to use it other times of the year, for example, on All Saints Sunday.
Behind the Scenes of “Now the Green Blade Rises”
This old French melody was probably first in Lydian mode. To our ears, accustomed to major and minor scales, Lydian will sound a bit like a hybrid. Lydian’s lowered 3rd makes it sound minor, but its raised 6th give it characteristics of a major scale. This allowed me to go play with major and minor scales in my setting.
My arrangement obviously “tips its hat” to Dave Brubeck’s wonderful Take Five. In deciding to arrange this old tune in a new way, my thinking was to create something unexpected. So not only do I apply with major and minor intervals, I also vary the time signatures. You may wonder why.
Long years in church have taught many of us to take Easter as a long-established fact, but— when we think about it— the first Easter would have been a total and wonderful surprise: Jesus is alive after all!
This tune, and my arrangement of it, play with light and dark (major and minor) and unexpected time signatures. The intent was to delight the listener. The jazzy rhythms and almost familiar use of the melody will, I hope, make the congregation smile.
Composer’s Notes on “Now the Green Blade Rises”
If you decide to include it in your church’s repertoire, I suggest you pay careful attention to accidentals. Sing with a bit of whimsy– not too legato, not too serious. Change your tone of voice so as to imbue the various emotions of the text with the proper timbre. And even though we’re in church, don’t be afraid to have fun. God wins!
I’m looking forward to contributing more music to the wonderful catalogs of the Fred Bock family. Though I did not know Fred myself, by all accounts, he was a lover of jazz and had a wonderful sense of humor. It’s my hope that he would have liked my new arrangement.