Albert Hay Malotte Composer
The Lord's Prayer
Musicology:This song, originally for voice and piano, "gratefully dedicated" to the composer's friend John Charles Thomas, is arguably the most popular setting of the prayer given as a model to Jesus' disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 of the King James Bible. Both in its thematic development and emotional modulation, this aria-esque composition is an exemplary paradigm for the art song form. Many arrangements have been made of this song (solo and choral vocals with piano, organ, or ensemble accompaniment) but the standard one for low voice and piano in G major will be discussed here.
The Lord's PrayerYear: 1935
Genre: Other Choral
Pr. Instruments: Voice & Chorus/Choir
The rolling, pastoral, harp-like triplet accompaniment opens in a Lento, religioso tempo. The initial atmosphere is meditative and intimate, peacefully articulated at a pianississimo dynamic level. The text is unfolded slowly with great attention paid to subtle inflections and the appropriate emotional support for each phrase.
"Our Father" is intoned on a single tone and switches the harmony to the dominant, but a tonic pedal point is maintained in order to suggest the sustained atmosphere. A descending, freely rolled first position tonic follows, used to give a feeling of movement without actually going anywhere. "...which (who) art in heaven" descends in a small tonal range accompanied by the basic IV (C) and V (D) chords. Two freely rolled chords (G over B, E minor) follow, again bringing the triplets to a momentary pause.
"Hallowed be thy Name," sung to the accompaniment of triplets, begins and ends with hesitant fermatas and a ritard. The whole phrase gradually reduces itself via a long, internalizing diminuendo. The phrases "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done..." imitate the "...which art in..." phrase, and gradually become more projected, until "...in (on) earth, as it is in heaven" which is series of dynamic swells that ends only in a slightly more full-bodied atmosphere.
A steady L'istesso tempo begins in 9/8 (with only a tenuous rhythmic reference to the flow of J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"). "Give us this day our daily bread" is again a slight dynamic swell diminishing to a piano dynamic. "And forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (as we forgive those who trespass against us)" receives only slight stress on the notes but modulates into the more serious key of B minor. The emotion is still restrained.
"...And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..." chromatically modulates back to the original key and increases steadily until the inevitable passionate outburst "For thine is the kingdom, and the power..." This is accompanied by concerto-like triplets on repeated chords (G, C, A seven over C sharp) at a forte dynamic, with the melody gradually leaping higher and higher by small steps.
"...and the glory..." receives two beautiful Wagnerian altered harmonies (C minor sixth over E flat, E flat augmented). "...for ever..." features a sustained vocal note and rising chords to the simple "Amen" cadence.
© "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Rovi