Showcase: Away in a Manger
“Away in a Manger” is the second collaboration with my friend composer, Geoff Groberg. We also had Julie Bucker, flute player/composer, add in a flute part. I was so impressed with the result that I knew I wanted to sell it when I finally got my publishing company up and running. We performed it for the Christmas program in 2015, and now it’s up for sale.
A funny story here. I ran into an issue with the second part of the piece (starting at rehearsal A). Geoff wanted us to simply sing what was in the LDS hymnbook, and keep the accompaniment simple. That’s how we performed it.
However, the hymnbook version of that hymn is copyrighted by the estate of Rosalee Elser, meaning I was unable to sell our arrangement without first obtaining permission.
For some reason, I was unable to find any information on how to contact the estate. I was willing to pay royalties and/or do whatever it took to get permission. Research brought me to the Reorganized LDS Church, now known as the Community of Christ. I learned that Ms. Elser had written/arranged several hymns for the former RLDS Church, but I still found no contact info. I sent an email to the church department on copyrights for information, but was ignored.
Then as I was getting ready to pick up the phone and corner some unsuspecting Community of Christ staff person, the thought occurred to me: I should just write my own arrangement of the hymn! So, I went to a public domain version here, and rearranged it myself, playing with the chromatic motif that is absent in Ms. Elser’s version. Copyright issues solved!
The result is a quiet, relaxing arrangement about the birth of Christ — perfect for Christmas programs.
Practice and Performance Tips:
This arrangement is meant to be on the easier side. You should be able to work it up quickly. The most challenging section is the part I just talked about above (at rehearsal A), especially the moving eighth notes. But since the piano doubles the choir exactly, the singers will be able to learn their parts quickly.
The third verse should be played quietly, and diminuendo to the end for a nice effect.
There’s not much advice to give to the flute and piano. Just don’t rush, and enjoy playing.