Wayfaring Stranger
Alice Parker

Composer Trad. Appalachian folk hymn, arr. Alice Parker
Text Trad. Appalachian folk hymn
Voicing SATB, a cappella, mezzo-soprano solo
Topics Lent, New Life
Price $2.25 (U.S.)
Length 4' 00" Released 6/99
Catalog no. 420-796
Difficulty Mod. difficult

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This haunting arrangement of the famous Appalachian folk hymn is deeply moving, and employs a solo mezzo-soprano against a backdrop of mixed voices, a capella. A powerful work for Lenten, general, or concert use.

I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger
a trav'lin' thro' this world of woe,
and there's no sickness, toil or danger
in that bright world to which I go.

I'm goin' there to see my Father,
I'm goin' there no more to roam;
I'm just a goin' over Jordan,
I'm just a-goin' over home.

I know dark clouds will gather o'er me,
I know my way is rough and steep;
yet beauteous fields lie just before me
where souls redeem'd their vigils keep.

I'm goin' there to see my Mother,
she said she'd meet me when I come;
I'm only goin' over Jordan,
I'm only goin' over home.

I want to wear a crown of glory,
when I get home to that bright land;
I want to shout salvation's story
in concert with that heav'nly band.

I'm goin' there to see my Savior,
to sing his praise forever more;
I'm only goin' over Jordan,
I'm only goin' over home.

--Traditional American

review copy

"Several works in this list are based on either traditional melodies or original melodies which evoke the folk genre. In the genuine folk category, Alice Parker's Wayfaring Stranger stands tall. Since I participated in the selection of this tune/text for Ms. Parker, as well as the premier at St. Philip's in the Hills, Tucson, there is little hope for anything resembling objectivity. What I can do is to let Ms. Parker's well-deserved fame speak for itself by saying, 'This is beyond-vintage Parker!' (i.e., 'Don't miss it...buy it today!')" --AAM Journal, January 2001

"This haunting traditional American folk hymn for SATB choir and mezzo-soprano solo begins with a simple two-part texture, with aligning harmonies of open-sounding intervals. Mostly using 3/4 meter, there are occasional measures of 4/4 and 5/4 inserted to maintain the free sound of the meter. The technique of a quasi two-part rhythmic canon at two beats is the compositional basis from the second verse to the end, expanded from an echo-type accompaniment used in the first verse. The second verse gives the melody to the bass, accompanied by women. Halfway through the third verse tension builds by introducing some pedal points on the word 'home,' then followed by another rhythmic canon. The use of this echo idea is very evocative of 'wandering.' " --The Hymn, January 2001

"The familiar traditional text and tune receives a masterful treatment by Parker in this arrangement. While the music is entirely diatonic without a single chromatic alteration, Parker uses dissonances and non-functional harmonies to great effect. Voices enter and echo in pointillistic manner, increasing the atmospheric approach. Even with the haziness of texture, the melody remains clear throughout. Parts are conservative in range and technical difficulty, and save for a final octave division in the bass, the texture remains in four parts with mezzo-soprano solo. This excellent setting of a traditional American sacred song is useful in a variety of contexts." --AAM Journal, Jan. 2021


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