Twelve Of The Best: Songs For Low Voices

Here are twelve characterful songs for male voice choir in a variety of styles, some in three parts, some in four. The choirs you hear are from all around the world – school choirs, amateur choirs, professional choirs. You can find more information and links to full recordings underneath this video catalogue.

Twelve splendid songs for male voice choir!

March Of The Heavy Ginghams for 3-part choir with snare drum. It is one of a few songs composed during an umbrella phase. It tell the tale, tongue in cheek of a regiment of the Victorian British Army who had amongst their kit, umbrellas to protect them from the sun.

Push The Boats Out is a shanty for 3-part choir. It is inspired by The Fisherman’s Farewell, which is a painting by Christopher Wood. The picture depicts three characters: the fisherman, his wife and their young son. In the background are the fisherman’s colleagues preparing the boats for departure from St. Ives harbour. The song has three verses, each told from the point of view of one of the three characters. The chorus depicts the men in the background, pulling ropes and singing a shanty to help with the rhythmic task.

In The Bleak Midwinter – a gentle, tuneful setting in three parts of three verses of Christina Rosetti’s Christmas poem.

Alleluia! Into The Light! is a fanfare (choruses) and reflections (verses) from the point of view of an underground coal miner on Christmas Eve looking forward to his day off tomorrow. The song describes his current surroundings and contrasts the darkness and exhausting work with the bright cheeriness in his imagination.

Hodie Christus Natus Est is a lively, rhythmic, antiphonal setting in four (or eight) parts of the Christmas day text. It is sometimes sung with soloists or a semi-chorus on the main text, with a full chorus singing the repeating patterns, and then some do it with everyone singing everything! This song exists in versions for SATB choir and treble voices and is my most performed piece.

Omnes de Saba is another 4-part Christmas choral anthem, this time using an Epiphany text. It has a Medieval flavour and contrasts repetitive fanfare alleluias for everyone with more flowing sections in a reduced texture.

No-Umbrella Blues is another 4-part song from my umbrella phase and is in a jazzy/bluesy style. It refers to the city of Dunedin in New Zealand and the statue of Robert Burns that stands in the city centre’s Octagon. The song also exists in a popular SATB version and also in a 2-part version with piano for treble voices, although this male voice choir version is proving popular!

Ooh Ladyfinger is in a similar bluesy style to No-Umbrella Blues, this time telling of the dietary and culinary virtues of a type of small banana. I wrote it when I lived in Queensland and first came across these fruits. I have written several songs about bananas if that’s your interest in this song! This song also exists for SATB and SSAA choir and was originally sung as a single line song with piano accompaniment by a primary school class. There is also a trickier arrangement of it for SATB choir with some divisi and more dramatic accompaniment patterns which help to tell the story.

Red, Red Rose is a 3-part setting of Robert Burns’ famous poem. It has been very popular in recent years, particularly in its SSA version. It flows smoothly along in a variety of thrilling time signatures!

Westlin Winds – an arrangement in three parts of a Robert Burns folk song. It’s an autumn song with hunting references – Burns is slightly conflicted between his concern for the animals being hunted and the enjoyment the hunters get from their sport.

The Fisher’s Invitation is a lilting Northumberland folk song – one of several Coquet Fishing Songs collected by Thomas Doubleday in the 1850s. I made this arrangement in four parts for the tenors and basses in The Bridge Singers for a concert inspired by the river that runs through our villages of Felton and West Thirston.

Water Of Tyne – an arrangement in parts of the popular Tyneside folksong requested by a barbershop group. As a result of the nature of this first group to perform it (lionheart Harmony) the harmonies do have barbershop tendencies, which may not please the folk purists!

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