Hymn Piano Accompaniment: My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

Hymn Tune Solid Rock

William B. Bradbury, 1863
Richard Betts
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
2 minutes
Classical music
Solo instrument (Piano)
Instrumental parts
Not available

Piano accompaniment to hymn "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" (hymn tune "Solid Rock") with introduction and final verse descant.

This arrangement slightly alters some of the traditional harmonization to freshen this well-known tune just a bit. It should work well with congregation or a soloist singing the melody line, and can also be used as a short piano solo.

The score is notated with a 4/4 measure at the end of the verse and refrain because the pause at these locations works best when the congregation knows how long the pause will be! Making the final note of each verse and refrain a consistent two beats in length both provides time for a vocal breath and removes any doubt about how long the accompanist is going to hold the note. Keep the tempo consistent and don't short-change the duration of the two beats, and singers will be much less likely to miss the first word of the next verse.

The text leading up to the "sinking sand" lyrics in the refrain is reinforced with a descending bass line, evoking a musical feeling of falling or dropping. Listeners probably won’t be consciously aware of this lyric/music pairing, but it nonetheless helps communicate the text’s meaning in a musical way.

The final verse features a trumpet-like fanfare which can be played in place of the default right-hand part. The descant accompanies the words "When he shall come with trumpet sound" and helps to reinforce the text. Following the fanfare, the descant continues with a lilting countermelody to the vocal line to complete the verse. This may be a bit challenging to play; feel free to use the main melody instead of the descant if you can't execute it consistently.

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