|Title:||LASST UNS ERFREUEN|
|Meter:||188.8.131.52.8.8 with refrain|
|Incipit:||11231 34511 23134|
|Key:||D Major/E♭ Major|
|Source:||Auserlesen Catholische Geistliche Kirchengesäng, Cologne, 1623;Geistliche Kirchengesang Cologne 1623|
Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
bright seraphs, cherubim, and thrones,
raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
virtues, archangels, angels' choirs:
From all that dwell below the skies,
Let the Creator's praise arise;
Let the Redeemer's name be sung
Through ev'ry land by ev'ry tongue.
LASST UNS ERFREUEN derives its opening line and several other melodic ideas from GENEVAN 68 (68). The tune was first published with the Easter text "Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr" in the Jesuit hymnal Ausserlesene Catlwlische Geistliche Kirchengesänge (Cologne, 1623). LASST UNS ERFREUEN appeared in later hymnals with variations in the "alleluia" phrases.
The setting is by Ralph Vaughan Williams (PHH 316); first published in The English Hymnal (1906), it has become the most popular version of LASST UNS ERFREUEN. In that hymnal the tune was set to Athelstan Riley's "Ye watchers and ye holy ones" (thus it is sometimes known as VIGILES ET SANCTI).
In this hymn a great text is matched by an equally strong and effective tune. Try these two possibilities of antiphonal singing: divide stanzas between women and men, or assign the verses to one group and the "alleluias" to another. Accompanists can signal such antiphonal effects in their use of varied registration. Registration changes also will help interpret the text; for example, the third stanza can begin with a lighter registration and move to a "blazing" sound on the second half.
Try having the congregation sing some stanzas unaccompanied but add organ (with full stops) at the "alleluias." Or, for a fine effect, have the congregation sing some stanzas in unison with accompaniment and the choir sing the "alleluias" in harmony unaccompanied, as indicated in the Psalter Hymnal. It is musically correct and pastorally wise to observe a fermata at the end of the second "alleluia" on the second system by turning that half note into a whole note. No ritard is necessary at the end of the hymn; it is built right into the final "alleluia" phrase. Try adding instruments to enhance this magnificent tune; there are several fine concertato versions in print that involve trumpets and/or full brass scoring.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook