Rhapsody On Eventide

For Organ and Orchestra

Composed by John McEnerney

Copyright June 2010

Abide with me or Eventide is a nineteenth century hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte with music by William Henry Monk.
The first verse is as follows:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

The 'eventide' in question has nothing to do with the end of a given day, rather the end of life.

A short Analysis

  • The music begins with a short quiet intro in the lower strings and horns.
  • Measure 30 begins what I call the "happy boy" theme. The bridge between the first and second iterations
    of this theme contains a passage reminiscent of a portion of Tchaikovski's Serenade for Strings.
  • Measure 88 introduces a rather dark passage in the horns and trombones. Things are not so happy now.
  • Measure 97 the hymn is intoned by the organ.
  • Measure 113 the hymn is repeated by the strings.
  • Measure 129 the hymn is sung by the clarinets in a different tempo with a kind of rocking
    accompanyment in the strings. From now on the variations become more complex.
  • Measure 145 introduces the first descant which lies above the hymn tune which again is sung by the clarinets.
  • Measure 161 introduces a new element. There is a hymn tune called "Buckingham" which when
    superimposed on "Eventide" makes for a nice contrast. Flutes and Oboe have "Eventide",
    Clarinets and Horns have "Buckingham".
  • Measure 177 introduces the second descant which lies above the hymn tune which now is sung by the horns.
    However in this case the accompanyment becomes more agitated with use of trumpets and tympani.
  • Measure 193 restates the hymn by the organ in an astringent minor key
  • Measure 209 begins a short bridge, more or less as a breather from the previous
  • Measure 225 starts with a recapitulation of the hymn with full organ and orchestra. The music is loosely based
    on elements from Louis Vierne's Carillon de Westminster, although the hymn is not even remotely related.
  • Measure 240 begins another short bridge with organ, brass and timpani.
  • Measure 242 marks the final appearance of the hymn but with an alternate harmonization.
  • Measure 265 is where a fugue begins. The theme is based on a variation of the first line of the hymn,
    and it concludes the piece at measure 421. Its structure is very loosely based on
    the "Great Fugue in G-Minor" by Bach.
Special Brass Strings Woodwinds
Score Trumpet in Bb 1 Violin 1 Flute 1
Organ Trumpet in Bb 2 Violin 2 Flute 2
Timpani Trumpet in Bb 3 Viola Oboe 1
. Horn in F 1 Cello Oboe 2
Audio - mp3; 27 megs
takes several minutes
Horn in F 2 Double Bass Clarinet in Bb 1
. Horn in F 3 . Clarinet in Bb 2
. Trombone 1 . Bassoon 1
. Trombone 2 . Bassoon 2
. Trombone 3