Laurie Williams’s descant arrangement for O Valiant Hearts with melody Ellers
This famous hymn by Arkwright is widely used for Remembrance Day services around the world and as an ANZAC service hymn in Australia and New Zealand.
Text by Sir John S Arkwright, 1872-1954.
Melody Ellers, by E J Hopkins, 1818-1901.
Harmony public domain, as used in The English Hymnal 1933.
Last verse descant, with slight augmentation of the original harmony, by Laurie Williams, 2005, for The Old Scholars’ Choir.
The old harmony on which this descant is written is a superb harmony for the melody Ellers. Grand, relatively simple, not overcomplicated.
(Perhaps it is Hopkins’s original harmony. Any information about its origin would be appreciated, via our contact page.)
For better balance, in this simple augmentation of the harmony the second tenor part doubles the melody.
Alternatively, the standard 4 part harmony used for the other verses may be sung with the descant, or all choir members other than descant sopranos may sing the melody in unison.
If you use only the standard harmony as accompaniment for the last verse with the descant, play the passing note in the bass at the end of the second line. You will hear the effect of it under the descant and the rest of the harmony.
The bass passing note is for the last verse only. Don’t play it for any of the other verses.
Never use the same descant for more than one verse. Doing so weakens its effect. Use this descant for the last verse only.
To preserve its association with this text, this descant is not licensed for use with any text other than the last verse of this hymn.
Text of O Valiant Hearts © the holder of the rights of the works of Sir John Arkwright, permission granted for its worldwide publication with the combination of this descant, this melody and this harmony.
Descant © Laurie Williams 2005, 2014.
Melody and harmonies public domain.
Layout © Laurie Williams 2014.
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