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On a Southern Hymnsong

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David Holsinger

David Holsinger

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General Info

Year: 1993
Duration: c. 4:55
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: TRN Music Pub. Co.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $65.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


Full Score
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet
Horn in F
Percussion I-II

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

On a Southern Hymnsong is based on the spiritual entitled There Is a Balm in Gilead found in many denominational hymnals throughout the country. The composer was surprised to find, during his investigation into the song's history, that the origin of this "spiritual" is a bit more cloudy than would be presumed. Although white spirituals were published in shape-note tunebooks two decades before Negro spirituals began to appear in print, both bodies of congregational folk song existed side by side in the pre-Civil War period. It is clear that these bodies of song intermingled and influenced each other, but the evidence is insufficient for either tradition to claim priority to several of our more familiar spirituals, "Gilead" included in that list. Regardless of their label, spirituals have become a deeply meaningful expression of a common faith for many American congregations.

This composition was commissioned by Betty Bates, director of the fine Scottsboro High School Symphonic Band in Scottsboro, Alabama. It join a series of hymnsong compositions based on traditional hymns of America.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class BB
  • Kansas: IV
  • Louisiana: II
  • North Carolina: IV
  • South Carolina: IV
  • Virginia: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • David Holsinger website Accessed 29 August 2021
  • Holsinger, D. (1993). On a Southern Hymnsong [score]. TRN Music: Ruidoso, N.M.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. 2002. Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 4. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 344-352.