No Greater Love
by Mike Wilson
"No Greater Love" is a stirring and majestic Memorial Day tribute to those who gave their all for their country. We begin with imagery of medals and a flag framed on the hallway wall, in a home of a family whose son will never return. The idea of the lyrical content is to help us see more than gravestones. To help us realize every soldier is just as real as we are, with the same fears, emotions, hopes, and dreams. They have families who still grieve their loss. They knew the risks of serving, but surely hoped and expected that they would one day return to their homes and resume their lives. The performance of this song will be much more profound if you keep these things in mind as you sing.
The vocal melody lines are mirrored and supported on the recording throughout this song by the French horn. The constant pulse of percussion and strings provides the energy and pending intensity of the chorus. While snare drums add a military flavor. Dynamics will play a large role in the presentation with each phrase building from hushed to strong. The singers in the demo modeled the approach very well as they built the intensity up to the chorus (measure 16).
We break into two parts for the chorus. Use words such as "emotion," "dignity," and "majesty" when describing the vocal style to your choir. If they can accomplish that, it will be very moving.
When we go back for the second verse, part 2 begins to echo part 1 and adds harmony to the longer lines. Again, we build toward the chorus, with brass filling in underneath. However, this time, at the end of the verse, we come to the lyrics, "placing flowers on their graves, on their graves." The dynamic softens while the entire instrumentation is reduced to the military snares. You may want to have your choir bow their heads as they sing the last "graves." Then a big drum fill brings us to the final chorus where everyone sings with as much enthusiasm as they can muster. Still dignified, and with gratitude.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.