Christ, My All (for SATB choir and speaker)

Today is the 200th birthday of Fanny J. Crosby, who has been my go-to source of public-domain hymn texts for the past few years, so I figured I would finally share a setting of one of her texts that I wrote for my church choir last year, in the hope that church choirs will be able to sing together again someday!

(I finished arranging Easter music a couple weeks ago, just before services started being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our prelude was going to be an arrangement of Phoebe Palmer Knapp’s tune for Crosby’s “Blessed Assurance,” perhaps her best-known text. Maybe next year….)

The text repository lists 757 texts by Crosby (!), and I was clicking on them at random when I came across “Christ, My All” and was struck by the frequent repetition of the title. It seemed like a good opportunity to write a sort of pseudo-Taizé refrain. (I didn’t look at Hubert Platt Main’s original tune until after I’d written mine—it’s a lot… bouncier.)

I decided to make the verses spoken instead of sung, inspired by Marian Wilson Kimber’s book The Elocutionists and by the 2017 album The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake by The Unthanks (and, I suppose, by my research on Madeleine Milhaud).

(The spoken part starts at 3:50)

For reasons of rehearsal time, when the choir at my church ~premiered~ “Christ, My All” on Maundy Thursday last year, we just had the choir sing everything, but I see the version for choir and speaker as an opportunity for someone outside the choir—perhaps a pastor or worship leader, or just someone in the congregation who’s good at reading poetry—to participate in the music.

I’m making this freely available because there isn’t much point in trying to sell church choir music at the moment, but if you ever use this at your church post-COVID, please let me know!

(I don’t have a real recording, so this is just once through the refrain in Finale.)