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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 1

Chapter 25
Word PaintingSupporting the Text
16 pages
12 examples
Worship songs have texts and texts have meanings and poetic images. We can honor and
draw attention to these meanings and images by means of "word painting." Word
painting is an expressive device that attempts to depict (often literally) the meaning of
specific, individual words in the text.
OUTLINE REPERTOIRE
Localized Musical Images It is Well
Meta Musical Images J esus, What a Wonder You Are
Basic Perspective My Tribute
He Touched Me
Hiding Place
O the Deep, Deep Love of J esus
Fill Me Now
And Can It Be
With word painting, improvisation takes on a distinctly associative, imitative dimension.
Ascending lines could occur on the word "ascend" or reflect the word "stars" or
"heavens," whereas sinking lines could represent the word "descend" or depict even a
descent into "hell." Wave-like movements could portray "rolling waves," a harsh
dissonance emotional "pain" or "trouble," a flurry of notes, a trumpet call. We'll illustrate
many of these images in the examples below.
Often the effect is highly specific, localized, and limited in its reference to a single
phrase. On the other hand, word painting could involve the creation of a single meta
image that forms the controlling mood of an entire piece. We'll explore both narrow and
broad ranging possibilities.
Localized Musical Images
A trumpet call is depicted on the word "trump" and a lightening-bolt, scalar passage
literally descends on the phrase "the Lord shall descend."
2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 2
Example 25.1 It is Well
Example 25.2 Excerpt from Jesus, What a Wonder You Are
The keyboard part is echoing the congregation (When creating echoes it is often helpful
to sing the words as you are improvising. It's a way to get creative ideas). Here we
stretch upward to the high note on "stars."
Descent of Christ on word "descend"
Firm
scend! E - ven so it is well with my soul

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Martial
The trump shall re - sound, and the Lord shall de -

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You shine
(Youshinelikethe
likethemorn-ing
morn-ing
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the morn-ing star)

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 3
Example 25.3 Refrain of My Tribute
The second line below, a variation of line one, invests directly in the words harmonically.
Example 25.4 He Touched Me
To God bethe glo - ry, to God bethe glo - ry

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exclamation "oh"
He touchedme, Oh, He touchedme, And

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Rhythmic agitation
on "power"
F is raised on
word "raised"
Dissonance on "blood"
Withhis blood hehas saved me; withhis power hehas raised me;

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 4


6
Cascading chords after "floods" Tender leap on 'joy"
tenderly
oh the joy thatfloodsmy soul;

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Rising lines accelerate through "something happened" and climax on "I know"
Some-thing hap-pened and now I know, He

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touchedme and made me whole
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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 5
Example 25.5 The Hiding Place
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Dissonance after "forlorn"
m E
Inatimeof
Inatimeof
trou-ble, in a timefor-
dan-ger, whenourfaith is
7
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lorn, Thereisa
proved, Thereisa
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7
B
hid-ingplacewherehopeis
hid-ingplacewhere weare

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m E
born.
loved.
m E
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m A 7
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hid-ingplace, astrongpro -
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tec-tiveplace, whereGodpro -

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 6


As ms. 12 and 13 show (above), even the contrast of major versus minor can serve to
give meaning to individual words. The Pop symbols are what we'd find in the more
simplistic hymnal version
Meta Musical Images
Word painting can involve creating a mood for an entire piece. For example, rather than
just fixing our mind on the melody of O the Deep Love of Jesus, we could try to do more
to encourage congregational singing. We could try to create the impression of waves
rolling and surging, for the text compares Christ's love to a vast ocean and whose waves
"roll" over us. Musically, rolling waves could be our sustained, "controlling image." This
could be accomplished in a very elaborate way, but here is a relatively easy way to do it
pianistically.
1 2
Chromatic descent and
minor chord on "change"
Major chords on "Father's love"
E
7
ma A
Fath-er's love, Tho's all may
7
m A
7
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#
change, yet noth-ing chan-ges
7
B
here.

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Subdued resolution on "relief"
Descending chromaticism on
"sorrow" and "grief"
Rit..............................................
m E
Inatimeof
Inatimeof
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sor-row, inatimeof
weak-nes, inatimeof
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fear, thereisa
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hid-ingplace to givere -
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lief.
near.

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 7
Example 25.6 O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
For the B section (the middle part of the piece), a more subdued rocking motion with
some harmonic planning (parallel chords) could be employed.
O the

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deep, deep love of J e - sus,

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Etc.
Etc.
Vast, un - mea-sured, bound-less free! Rol - ling

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 8
Example 25.7 Middle Section of O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
At m.29 the A section returns.
2 1
Un - der - neath me, all a -

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Etc.
of Thy love. Lead - ing

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round me, is the cur - rent

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 9
Example 25.8 Fill Me Now
In the example below, increasing textural and rhythmic densities work with surging
dynamics to evoke the sense of "filling" with the Holy Spirit.
Example 25.9 Hymnbook Version (Man of Sorrows)
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Fill me now, fill me now,

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J e - sus come and
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fill me now.
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Fill me

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Man of sor - rows!
Bear - ing shame and
Guilt - y, vile, and
Lift - ed up was
When He comes, our
what a name
scoff - ing rude,
help - less we,
He to die,
glo - rious King,
For the Son of
In my place con -
Spor - less Lamb of
"It is fin -ished,"
All His ran - somed

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 10
Example 17.10 Traditional Chromaticism (Man of Sorrows)
Below is our attempt to get at the magnificent lyric of this famous Easter hymn. The
harmonies are basically traditionalthere is nothing outlandish. The chromatic,
descending bass line is one of the keys to the harmonization.
So are the bending, twisting, and at times, drooping lines in the inner voices that depict
the suffering of J esus Christ on our behalf (see the F-E movement in m.2, the C-B
movement in m.4, and the C#-C movement in ms. 8 and 12).
God who came
demned He stood,
God was He;
was His cry;
home to bring,
Ru - ined sin - ners
Sealed my par - don
Full a - tone-ment!
Now in heaven ex -
Then a - new this
to re - claim! Hal - le -
with His blood; Hal - le -
Can it be? Hal - le -
alt - ted high, Hal - le
song we'll sing, Hal - le

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lu - jah, what a Sav - ior!



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Bear - ing shame and
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scoff - ing rude,
help - less we,
In my place con -
Spor - less Lamb of

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 11
4
demned He stood,
God was He;
Sealed my par - don
Full a - tone-ment!
with His blood; Hal - le -
Can it be? Hal - le -

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222 2
lu - jah! Hal - le -
lu - jah! Hal - le -
lu - jah! Hal - le
lu - jah! Hal - le
lu - jah! what a
lu - jah! what a
Sav - ior!
Sav - ior!

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lu - jah what a
lu - jah, what a
Sav - ior!
Sav - ior!

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 12
Example 17.11 This is My Father's World
1
Intro
arr Browning/Liesch
This ismyfath(er's)
This

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Verse 1
is my Fa - ther's world, and to my lis-tening ears All

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 13


1 4
forward........................................................................................
is my Fath-er's world: I rest my in the

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1 7
thought of rocksandtrees, and skiesandseas-His handsthewon-ders

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wrought. This is myFath-er's

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world: the birds their car - ols raise. The morn - ing light, the
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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 14


2 8
li - lywhite,de- claretheirmak-er's praise. This

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is my Fath-er's world: He shinesin all that's fair; In the

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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 15
Note the word painting on the word "sings" (m.10), "thought" (m.17), "birds their carols"
(bird trill in m.25), and "morning light" (m. 27). The style is gently J azzy-lyrical through
the use of many chordal substitutions. The modulation creates increasing levels of
intensity. A fragmentary motive from the melody is grafted into the sus9 descending
sequence in the Intro. The paired Intro-Outro gives the arrangement unity and balance.
Basic Perspective
In general, for forceful or military-like images, straight or angular musical lines, and/or
chordal spikes often work best (see example 1). For intimate, romantic-like images,
soprano and inner lines lines that flow, bend, twist, curve, or droop, are most effective.
4 3
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2012 Barry Liesch ch25 Word Painting 16
To conclude, let's look at some straight lines and spikes in And Can it Be.
Example 25.12 Refrain of And Can it Be
After a concert, a man approached
the famed violinist Fritz Kreistler and said:
"I'd give my whole life to play like that"
to which Kreistler replied:
"I did."
rose went forth and fol - lowed Thee.

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