Title: Dark and Thorny is the Desert                                     $1.95
Performance requirements: SATB chorus and flute
Composer: Ben J. Legett
Text: William Walker
Length: 3’00”
Difficulty (1-5): 3
Ranges: sop b-e2, alto b-d2, tenor B-e, bass G-e1
Usage: General sacred, All Saints, eternal life

Rehearsal Guide: This piece tells of the discomforts of this life and the pleasures of the
next, painting a picture of a mighty God reigning over both spheres.  It is an unusual and
vivid text.  Both the hymn tune and words are by William Walker and appeared in his
Southern Harmony of 1853.

The ranges in this anthem are pretty wide, so don’t hesitate to move a soprano or two to
the alto part and a tenor or two to the bass part when ever you need to reinforce a high
passage.  Since the melody is pentatonic, some choirs will have difficulty maintaining
pitch.  You may want to spend a little extra time increasing the group’s awareness of the
tonal center (G) by sustaining the pitch on the piano as they sing, or by rehearsing sections
of the piece in G# or F# instead of G.  If that doesn’t work, try moving your rehearsal to
another room that has different acoustic properties.  Sometimes that can make a huge
difference in maintaining pitch.  As with any accompanied choral piece, make sure you
work with the flutist before you incorporate that part in the choir rehearsal.  That way,
the instrumentalist aids the singers by providing a pitch reference, instead of throwing
them off with mistakes.  

Begin your work with the singers by having them learn the hymn tune.  Sing the alto part
though measure 12, then pick up the tune in the soprano (measures 13-17), and back to the
alto.  When everyone is familiar with the melody, it will be easier for them to learn the
inversions that frequently accompany it.  The sections beginning at mm 31 and 71 should
be more legato than the others.  Measures 76 and 77 include consecutive seventh chords in
the alto-tenor-bass lines; rehearse those before you add the sopranos.
Click on image to enlarge