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Article "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

Image: Peace on Earth by Amy Beach
Peace on Earth, opus 38, 1897, by Mrs. H. H. A. (Amy) Beach. Holograph in pen. A. P. Schmidt Collection, box 27, folder 19. Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress.

Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897), Beach subtitled "Christmas Anthem." It is an ambitious piece that sets to music verses one, four, and five of the E. H. Sears text, "It Came upon the Midnight Clear." For the fifth verse, Beach uses a variant published by Edward Bickersteth in his 1879 Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer. The anthem exemplifies her use of colorful, imaginative harmonies and smoothly voiced part writing.

In her Music's Ten Commandments as Given for Young Composers (1915), she wrote "Hear as much choral music as possible. The study of voice writing, as illustrated in the master works, is of the greatest importance." Beach inserts frequent expressive markings throughout the anthem. Immediately following a poco animato and ff at "From Heaven's all-gracious King," she writes Tranquillo, pp, for "The world in solemn stillness lay." Then she highlights "To hear the angels sing" espressivo. She places a dolce at "Peace on the earth," and another espr. on the repetition of that text phrase.

Beach's use of expressive devices serves to demonstrate adherence to her tenth musical commandment: "Remember that technic is valuable only as a means to an end. You must first have something to say--something which demands expression from the depths of your soul. If you feel deeply and know how to express what you feel, you make others feel."

About this Item


  • "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach


  • -  Beach, H. H. A. -- Mrs. -- 1867-1944 -- -- composer
  • -  Choral music
  • -  Worship and Praise
  • -  Songs and Music
  • -  Parlor and Concert Stage
  • -  rise of industrial america (1877-1900)
  • -  Articles


  • article

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