Veni, Veni Emmanuel (O Come, O come Emmanuel) is an anthem for Advent, utilizing SATB choir, piano, and handbells, anticipating the coming of Christ. It includes both Latin and English lyrics of praise, worship, and anticipation.
I have always loved handbells. I spent a lot of my life at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio where the music program is massive. Both of my sons played in various handbell choirs, and I even had the opportunity to ring a bell or two for ornamentation during a choir anthem. My current choir also has a very enthusiastic and talented bell choir. They were quite supportive and helpful as I wrote this piece.
If you have read other posts, you already know that I love choral music. It seemed to be a natural transition to combining them in one composition. Then, when you add in that I love Christmas music it was a no-brainer. I also love singing in Latin, making the whole experience a lot of fun. Why Latin you might ask. Its the vowels. Nice round vowel sounds.
Alternating the melody between the handbells and singers created a joyous celebration where no one feels left out. For the singers, the range is generally moderate. The tenor and base are in unison, with rare divisi while the soprano and alto are generally divided, with occasional unison. Veni, Veni Emmanuel uses 22 handbells, and can be doubled for larger groups. Performance time is approximately 3:15.
The composition was first performed on December 17, 2023 at Rio Rancho Presbyterian Church with the Chancel Choir and the JuBELLation Ringers and was well-received. I’m starting to think about what other handbell/choir piece I might compose. Its too late for this year, but perhaps a jubilant Easter anthem for 2025?