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Guuterput Fantasy

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Wind Band
2022
8 min.

Alto Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone

Bass Clarinet

Bassoon

Clarinet

Cymbals

Euphonium

Flute

Glockenspiel

Horn

Marimba

Oboe

Snare Drum

Tenor Saxophone

Timpani

Trombone

Trumpet

Tuba

Tubular Bells

Vibraphone

Xylophone

More Details

Program Notes
Greenlandic composer, poet, teacher, and artist Rasmus Berthelsen (1827-1901) wrote the melody and lyrics of the Christmas Carol “Guuterput” (or “Our God”) in 1858. It is a blending of Inuit vocal tradition known as inukkuut with the northern European Christian hymns of Denmark. Inukkuut is rooted in ancient drum songs that the community greatly reveres. They are known by all and are sung at celebrations, birthdays, and holidays. They often have very slow, solemn tempi and make use of vocal portamento - one note gradually sliding into the next. They were taught generation to generation by rote and then were eventually written down. Guuterput has become part of the national identity of Greenland. In fact it is considered the most respected Christmas Hymn and is Greenland’s National Christmas Carol. It is included in the Greenlandic Book of Hymns. As with other Greenlandic Drum Songs, the text does not rhyme. Since the 1920’s it has become tradition for everyone to stand while singing. In 1955, Elias Gedionsen added a short introduction to the song, explaining that the primary text is in the voice of the Angels, proclaiming Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. In this treatment, the traditional introduction is followed by two verses and finally the conclusion of the hymn. Measures 22 - 109 are made up of original material inspired by the hymn. The hymn is then repeated, with the band singing the first verse and playing the second. The band and audience are encouraged to stand for the performance of the verses, if possible. It is my hope that this composition for concert band will bring recognition and to this beautiful song and the inukkuut musical tradition, while honoring the people of Greenland and their rich culture.
Ensemble Name
Baseline Publishing