William Billings
(1746 - 1800)

Billings : Sanctify a fast : illustration

Sanctify a fast
(S.A.T.B. + reduction)
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An anthem for fast day from Billings' Continental Harmony, 1794. The reduction should be reserved for rehearsal. I have attempted to preserve the differences in relative speed shewn in the original. Billings' own absolute tempi are well documented (generally a pulse of c. 60 per minute in this piece) but have been increased, more readily to accord with the modern audience's attention span.
Lyrics: Joel ch.1 - 3 (adapted)

Sanctify a fast, call a common assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord our God and cry unto the Lord.
The seed is rotten under the clods, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.
How do the beasts groan because they have no pasture.
O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up.
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, let the trumpet sound, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar: and let them say, O Lord spare thy people: for wherefore should the heathen say Where is now their God?
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain mod'rately, and he will cause to come down for you the former and the latter rain in the first month.
And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.
And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord our God shall be delivered.