Peace On Earth
by Teresa Jennings
The song "Peace On Earth" is written in a gospel/pop style with a rollicking triplet-based feel. In other words, the eighth notes should swing. The rhythm section (and organ) at the beginning of the piece demonstrate this very nicely and should help singers feel it more readily.
The verse of the song is meant to be sung by soloists - four of them, to be exact. However, as with all solos we write, this is optional. Perhaps you will use only one soloist, or two, or a select group, or all singers for everything. (Got any teachers or parents who like to sing gospel style solos?) In our case, we did use four soloists: Rachel Moody, Melissa Kline, Holly McDaniel, and Katy Gentry. The descant solo at the end was also sung by Katy, ad libbed, as you can hear. Let your soloists listen to ours for ideas on how to perform. Liberties may certainly be taken. The one suggestion we would like to make is not to let them get too carried away and wander too far from the melody. Also, soloist 4 should sing the lower notes at measures 23 and 24 the first time, and the higher notes the second time for the best effect and a more appropriate build.
There is also a rather challenging part 2. Its first entrance is at the chorus the first time. We used our older singers to perform this part, and you may feel that is the wise thing to do as well. Older students will appreciate the challenge! In case you would like to have the background vocals of part 2 in your performance, but either don't have your own singers capable of it, or merely want to reinforce it, we have provided an alternate background track with these vocals (track 19). Of course, part 2 is optional. The piece will absolutely work in unison.
One of the most musical moments in the song is the occurrence of the subito mezzo piano during the chorus. In performance, this could prove to be a very dramatic moment if done well. Be sure students sing out at full volume right up to the moment it all stops. When they re-enter, have them even exaggerate the mezzo piano and the crescendo. It will sound great! Do note that when this same line occurs later in the song after the ritard, there is no break and no dynamic change at the same point. You will need to teach students to hold strongly through since they will be used to stopping. The difference is due to the writer's desire to have a full and building sound from the new tempo to the end. Another break would interrupt the flow at that point.
On the lyric page, we have included sign language for the chorus. We feel that in a song like this, signing could be quite moving. (Thanks to artist Cathy Blaski for her research and work on all those little fingers!) There is one note of explanation Cathy suggests we include about the word "peace": With hands held palms together or clasped at chest, left hand forward, rotate hands (left hand counter-clockwise, right hand clockwise) while turning wrists to switch positions. Finish by separating the hands, moving them out and down.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.