Memorial Day: Hymn To The Fallen



So, I was a bit of a John Williams fan in high school. Yes, in my opinion, sometimes he could have done better (e.g. The Patriot) and I wish he would have spent more time away from the key of B flat, but at the turn of the millennium, it's arguable that he started to modify his music away from predictable tonality.


But, with the soundtrack to Saving Private Ryan, John Williams really hit it out of the park.


The opening track of the soundtrack (though it doesn't play until the credits in the movie) is entitled "Hymn to the Fallen," and it's not a misnomer. Never have I seen a film composer create a piece that so closely follows the structure and phrasing of a hymn, including a discernible melody, stanzas, and even a descant finale. Yet, at the same time, there are no lyrics to this melody (slightly similar to how I wrote an orchestral work on Psalm 22 without text-setting).


Also, being a hymn, "Hymn to the Fallen" does not require an orchestra. It could be made into a lead sheet, and it could be executed by piano, organ, or worship team, and it would work well for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or another time that we want to honor those who gave their lives for a godly cause bigger than themselves.

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