Aaron Copland

At the River, song for voice & piano (Old American Songs II)

    Description by James Reel

    Copland scored his second set of Old American Songs for "medium voice" and piano, later arranged it for voice and orchestra (premiered in 1958 by mezzo Grace Bumbry), and ultimately asked others to prepare versions of four of the five songs for chorus and orchestra; in the case of "At the River," the task fell to former Copland student Raymond Wilding-White.

    "At the River" is an arrangement of a hymn that had also caught the attention of Charles Ives, although Copland's version is much more straightforward. The accompaniment tends to be broad and chordal, with Copland-esque harmonies only at transitional points and climaxes in the third and fourth verses. This supports a stately melody line lightened by little melodic skips, with an overall effect of dignity completely free of either pomp or sentimentality. Copland employs the traditional melody in the first, second, and fourth verses, using a related countermelody for the all-important, affirming third verse.

    Shall we gather by the river,

    Where bright angels' feet have trod,

    With its crystal tide forever

    Flowing by the throne of God.

    Yes, we'll gather by the river,

    The beautiful, the beautiful river,

    Gather with the saints by the river

    That flows by the throne of God.

    Soon we'll reach the shining river,

    Soon our pilgrimage will cease,

    Soon our happy hearts will quiver

    With the melody of peace.

    (Repeat second verse.)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875032272
    2016 Sony Classical 88985304202
    2016 Gia GIACD 995
    2016 MSR Classics MS 1555
    2014 Mark Diamond
    2014 Mark Custom Recording / Mark Records 50888 MCD
    2013 Mark Custom Recording / Mark Records 50542 MCD
    2013 Newton Classics 8802167
    2012 Centaur Records 3159
    2012 MSR Classics MS 1399
    2010 EMI Classics / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099964044
    2010 Bob Storeygard / Sky Blue
    2009 CCT / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099969522
    2009 CCT / Erato / Virgin Classics 863632
    2008 EMI Classics
    2007 Elatus
    2007 Angel Records 57591
    2007 ABC Classics 4766169
    2006 Querstand 9815
    2005 Marquis Classics 81337
    2005 Decca 4762743
    2005 Summit Records 428
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 31553
    2005 Transart Live 110
    2004 DG Deutsche Grammophon 638
    2004 Centaur Records 2679
    2003 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2003 Panda Digital 0214
    2003 Decca 000151202
    2003 Elatus / Warner Bros. 0927498362
    1999 CBC Records MVCD 1102
    1999 Intersound 3745
    1999 Virgin Classics / Angel Records / Virgin 45368
    1999 Sonora SO22585CD
    1998 Intersound 1418
    1998 Intersound 1420
    1997 VAI Audio 1140
    1996 Delos 3203
    1995 Centaur Records 2022
    1994 RCA 09026625472
    1992 RCA Victor Red Seal 61509
    RCA 902661508
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 4746382
    REM 311253
    RCA 62547
    Centaurus Classics
    Audio Reality Recordi 57114