“Arise, O God, and Shine” is one of the hidden gems of our hymnbook. We can thank the John Knox Presbyterian Church in South Carolina for commissioning this arrangement by Mack Wilberg. It’s a real shame that LDS wards don’t sing this hymn. The text is a beautiful petition to God for missionary work to sweep the earth, and the music is well-written and interesting! (Full disclosure: this hymn has been my favorite since I was first introduced to it as a missionary.)
Wilberg’s arrangement highlights the organ. He’s written rich, full chords and an active pedal line. The key changes from Ab to C major in measure 11 (which is still the intro). The vocal parts are uncomplicated. Unison men and women on verse one and women on the melody for verse two. Verse three is acapella SATB. This verse shares many of the harmonies with the hymnbook version—the main differences are tighter harmonies and added suspensions. The two versions are written in the same key. Wilberg’s harmonization could easily be used as a free accompaniment for congregational singing. The final verse changes key up to D and adds an accessible descant (up to high G). It should also be noted that the hymn text “Rejoice, the Lord is King” (hymn #66) appears in italics under the main text and could be sung instead.
This hymn deserves to be added to your ward’s repertoire, whether it’s as a congregational hymn or as this powerful arrangement. You can’t go wrong either way.
Reviewer: Jessi Vandagriff