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Sonata Hymnica No. 4
Digital Sheet Music
By James Siddons

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Piano Solo - Level 3 - Digital Download
Composed by James Siddons. 20th Century, Christian, Concert, Gospel, Traditional. Score. 24 pages. James Siddons Music and Writings #6135401. Published by James Siddons Music and Writings (A0.972666).

Item Number: A0.972666

In the Sonata Hymnica Series, composer James Siddons draws on the ethos of American rural hymns and spirituals to create evocations of the deeper, larger meaning of familiar church melodies. These sonatas for piano solo explore these deeper meanings in a variety of contemporary musical influences, while keeping in mind the acoustics of small rural churches of the late nineteenth century, with wooden floors and walls, high ceilings, and dimensions determined by local builders who knew how to shape a room for resonant acoustics in an age of no electricity and no microphones. These sonatas are but partly about the specific melodies and words, and mostly about their meaning in spiritual contemplation . . . and the piano, resonating, reverberant, sometimes whispering---as a sacred harp.

Sonata Hymnica No. 4 draws on two religious songs of the era. The first to be heard in the sonata, "It Is Well with My Soul," was written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873, after surviving the sinking of the ship Ville du Havre in a storm. A phrase in stanza 1, "When sorrows like sea billows roll," is the inspiration for the present interpretation of Philip P. Bliss' hymn tune, composed for Spafford's poem in 1876. The dynamic image of storms at sea has a long history, from Christ Walking on the Water (Mark 4:35-41) to the medieval chant (a sequence) Rex caeli, Domine maris

undi-soni ("King of Heaven, Lord of the wave-sounds") to Franz Liszt's Legend for piano solo St. François de Paule marchant sur le flots (St. Francis Walking on the Waves) to Spafford's poem.

The melodic theme for what amounts to the second movement of this sonata is from George Bennard's "The Old Rugged Cross" (words and music composed together in 1913). A phrase from the refrain, "And exchange it someday for a crown," is the inspiration for this piano interpretation's expression of triumph over sorrow, danger, and adversity. A Coda combines the two themes heard in this Sonata Hymnica.

Performance Note for Sonata Hymnica No. 4

The pianist must keep in mind that these sonatas are about playing the piano as much as playing a composition. Musical effects characteristic of the piano in American culture in the 1870-1920 era are the substance of these piano solos. Touch is important: in many places, several dynamics are called for on the same beat. A passage built on the "It Is Well with My Soul" tune evokes violent storms at sea and should be played boldly. Further on, the Refrain melody of "The Old Rugged Cross" is used to evoke a feeling of flying effortlessly in the sky. Both passages have cinematic characteristics

This product was created by a member of ArrangeMe, Hal Leonard’s global self-publishing community of independent composers, arrangers, and songwriters. ArrangeMe allows for the publication of unique arrangements of both popular titles and original compositions from a wide variety of voices and backgrounds.

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