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When Jesus Wept

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William Schuman

William Schuman

This work is the second movement of Schuman's "New England Triptych."

Subtitle: Prelude for Band

General Info

Year: 1956 / 1959
Duration: 5:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts - $75.00   |   Oversize Full Score Only - $35.00   |   Full Score Only - $9.00   |   Condensed Score Only - $5.00   |   Oversize Full Score of Complete Triptych - $65.00


Full Score
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet (or Trumpet) Solo-I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium Solo-Tutti
String Bass
Field Drum


  • In the score, rehearsal number 75 is incorrectly placed on m. 74, and should be one measure further ahead.
  • In the score, rehearsal number 95 is incorrectly placed on m. 94, and should be one measure further ahead.

Program Notes

As written for orchestra, the second movement, When Jesus Wept, begins with a solo by bassoon and soon after the bassoon is accompanied by oboe. Schuman's reworking of the composition for concert band uses solo euphonium and trumpet instead of the bassoon and oboe. When Jesus Wept is in the form of a round and uses Billings's music in its original form.

When Jesus wept, the falling tear

in mercy flowed beyond all bound;
when Jesus mourned, a trembling fear

seized all the guilty world around.

This composition is a transcription by the composer from his New England Triptych: Three Pieces for Orchestra after William Billings, of which When Jesus Wept is the second movement. The composer wrote the following program note:

“William Billings (1746-1800) is a major figure in the history of American music. The works of this dynamic composer capture the spirit of sinewy ruggedness, deep religiosity, and patriotic fervor that we associate with the Revolutionary period. Despite the undeniable crudities and technical shortcomings of his music, its appeal even today is forceful and moving. I am not alone among American composers who feel an identity with Billings, and it is this sense of identity that accounts for my use of his music as a point of departure. New England Triptych does not constitute a fantasy on themes of Billings, nor variations on his themes, but rather a fusion of styles and musical language.”

Schuman used the text of the hymn in its original round form, and the movement functions as the central prelude to the third movement, Chester. The composition calls for controlled, sensitive, legato playing from the ensemble. The solo euphonium and trumpet parts are demanding in range, color, and intonation. When performed in succession, the composer wished for movements two and three to be performed virtually attacca.

- Program Notes by Jennifer Daffinee for the 2016 Texas All-State 5A Symphonic Band concert program, 13 February 2016

When Jesus Wept was premiered by the Goldman Band on June 18, 1958, with Schuman’s personal friend Richard Franko Goldman conducting. The movement bookends with field drum, solo euphonium, and solo cornet. Their phrase quickly grows into a full ensemble chorale. Schuman takes Billings’ traditional harmony and adds his own twentieth-century polytonal interpretation to the chorale.

- Program Note from University of North Texas Concert Band concert program, 24 February 2020

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class A
  • California: V, Class A
  • Florida: V
  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Massachusetts: V
  • Michigan: AA
  • Mississippi: IV-A, V-A, VI-A
  • New York: V
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) Wind Ensemble (Christian Zembower, conductor; Samuel Mears, cornet; Nicholas Fisher, euphonium) - 15 April 2021
  • Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.) Wind Symphony (Richard Strauch, conductor) - 14 November 2020
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Wind Ensemble (Mike Fansler, conductor) - 10 November 2020
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Symphony (John Cody Birdwell, conductor) - 23 October 2020
  • Lander University (Greenwood, S.C.) Wind Ensemble (Reed Gallo, conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Concert Band (Brett Penshorn, conductor) – 24 February 2020
  • University of Chicago (Ill.) University Wind Ensemble (Nicholas J. Carlson, conductor) – 23 February 2020
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Zachariah Cheever, conductor) – 6 February 2020
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell Wind Ensemble (Daniel Lutz, conductor) – 5 December 2019
  • United States Air Force Band of the Golden West (Joseph Hansen, conductor) - 21 November 2019 (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • Centenary College of Louisiana (Shreveport) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Hundemer, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.) Wind Ensemble (Rachel Sorensen, conductor) – 13 November 2019
  • Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Community Band (Walt Otey, conductor) – 3 November 2019
  • Stuart (Fla.) Community Concert Band (Jim LeBon, conductor) - 27 October 2019
  • Ohio University (Athens) Wind Symphony (William Talley, conductor) – 24 September 2019
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville) Wind Ensemble (William Pease, conductor) – 28 April 2019>
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • Hope College (Holland, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Gabe Southard, conductor) – 8 April 2019
  • Southern Adventist University (Collegedale, Tenn.) Wind Symphony (Ken Parsons, conductor) – 7 April 2019
  • La Sierra University (Riverside, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Giovanni Santos, conductor) – 9 March 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Battisti, Frank. (1990, January-February). “William Schuman: 'When Jesus Wept'.” BD Guide 4(3), 13–15. Reprinted in Performance Study Guides of Essential Works for Band, edited by Kenneth L. Neidig. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications, 2009. pp. 51–53.
  • Magie, Gregory Alden. (1966) “Conducting William Schuman’s New England Triptych.” D.M.A. dissertation. Los Angeles: University of California.
  • Pearlmutter, Alan, and Jacques Voois. (1987, Spring-Summer). “William Schuman’s ‘New England Triptych’ and the music of William Billings.” Journal of the Conductor’s Guild 8(2 & 3), 48-57.
  • William Schuman website