Heinrich Schütz
Motet: Lord, Who Is My Guide But Thee? (SWV 280): arranged for eight trombones

Arranged by James Bates

2 choirs; each has 3 tenors (2 in tenor clef) 1 bass

Vancouver, BC, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2020

Primary Genre: Trombone Ensembles - 8 trombones

As part of the requested funeral music for Henry II, Count of Reuss-Gera, this motet is the middle selection of a three-part requiem entitled “Musikalische Exequien.” (SWV 279-281) Based on the text of Psalm 73:25-26, Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) set this for two antiphonal 4-part choirs (SATB). Trying to locate the original material required assistance from one of the research librarians from the Library of Congress. The title is not the same as Schütz’s original: “Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe” (tr. Lord, if I only had you). A modern version with a slightly modified translation of the original text was edited by Karlheinz and Irene Funk and published by Theodore Presser in 1954, has the same title as this trombone version, and remains on several states’ recommended music lists for choral festivals.

This edition retains all of the original pitches and rhythms, transposed down a 5th from A to D. The voice leading is effectively retained without need for octave displacement. The first part ascends to b-flat1, which occurs near the end, and the bass bottoms at AA, with an optional DD in the last measure. The top two parts in both choirs are given in tenor clef. Breath marks and dynamics are musically appropriate for this German-style chorale. Occurrences of polyphony, imitation, and dynamic contrast give this music a distinctly satisfying character. As with most of Cherry Music’s publications, score and parts are neatly arranged. This should be accessible to a solid college-level ensemble.

A colleague of Gordon Cherry’s from their shared time at Eastman, James Bates has an impressive résumé, including study with Emory Remington, a stint with the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, and copyist, arranger, and performer with Quincy Jones in Los Angeles. Cherry offers, “Receive a free bonus of another Bates arrangement, Brahms, “Create in me a Pure Heart” with the purchase of this music.” Anyone familiar with Schütz’s music is aware of the quality. It is reported that Brahms carried this work with him and might have formed a partial basis of his monumental Requiem. 

Reviewer: David Stern
Review Published November 25, 2023