Northland Chorus Director's 1st Arrangement Becomes
Chapter's Timely Gift for Fallen Soldier's Family
The May-June 2011 issue of the Barbershop Harmony Society's International magazine, The Harmonizer contained an article about the Northland Chorus that contained within it a sidebar story about a significant moment in the Chapter's history.
Northland Chorus Director Bob Shami describes, in a posting to the 3000-member Harmonet Barbershop Discussion Group, his arrangement of "Mansions of The Lord":
"It is a tribute to fallen soldiers that was first sung by the U.S. Military Academy Glee Club over the closing credits of the 2002 movie: "We Were Soldiers". It has since become something of a standard in some military circles, and was played at President Ronald Reagan's funeral service. Shortly after I completed the arrangement, we were asked to perform it at the funeral with full military honours for a local American serviceman who was killed in Afghanistan. That single performance remains for me the high water mark in my 30+ years of membership in the BHS. Given our border town location and with our membership comprised of men from both sides of the border, our performance at this young soldier's funeral service allowed us to demonstrate our solidarity with our American neighbours, as Canadian soldiers have served in Afghanistan for many years."
"I am willing to share this arrangement at no cost to any who might wish to sing it. I believe the chart to be singable yet powerful in its simplicity. It is hard for us to sing it to this day without some of my singers being moved to tears! I would like nothing more than if this arrangement were widely performed, throughout North America and beyond, in honour of service men and women. The lyrics are not specific to any particular nation, referring only to "fallen soldiers". The arrangement is available in the BHS Catalogue as Stock No. 202717 (male voicing) and 206758 (female voicing). First class learning tracks are also available, done by the excellent Daniel Gillis. "
--Bob Shami, Music Director, Northland Barbershop Chorus
What people are saying about "Mansions Of The Lord"
Since 2011, we've received more than 80 requests for Bob's arrangement from Chapters and Chorus Directors across North America and overseas.
Here are just some of the comments we've received about "Mansions Of The Lord":
"The arrangement is very solid and well-written and it is a powerful song. We are in the middle of intense preparation for the International competition right now, but after the contest, I will have a chance to give the arrangement more thought. Thank you so much for offering it to us, Bob. Maybe we can talk more about it later in the Summer. Very pretty song, excellent arrangement, and Daniel Gillis certainly did it justice with his recording. I would like to keep this in my files for future use- possibly on our next inspirational CD. I would ask you permission at that time. Is this okay with you? Thanks so much for thinking of the VM. Your friend, Jim"
Jim Clancy, Vocal Majority, Dallas TX
"See? I told you it was a great arrangement! I've been tying to ring Jim's bell for years, and you hit it on the first try! The first time I heard your "Mansions" I knew it was really special, the kind of song choruses everywhere would embrace. Your arrangement is perfectly simple and simply perfect! Congratulations, partner"
Joe Johnson, Ponchatoula, LA
"Nice arrangement, Bob . . ."
"I spoke with Joe Liles this morning about your song and he agreed that my pursuing it for our chapter would be a good thing to consider.
Bob Gall Racine, WI
"This reverent tune should make a welcome addition to our "patriotic show" repertoire."
Joe Dymale Arlington, TX
"Our chorus is comprised of over 25 singers, the majority of whom are veterans of our armed forces. It is our honor to sing for the National Cemetery for Alaska at the Memorial Day ceremonies for the past five years. I would like to make "Mansions of the Lord" a part of our patriotic repertoire, with an eye towards Memorial Day 2012."
Chuck Harris, Anchorage, AK
"My chorus, The Hernando Harmonizers, of Hernando County, FL will be honoring our local heroes in our annual show in November. We are looking for something special for our tribute to all who have fallen in service to our community and country. Thank you for sending me your beautiful arrangement.....what a marvellous turn on a beautiful hymn! I am quite sure that we'll incorporate it in our annual show in Nov."
Doug Stewart, Springhill, FL.
"I live in the largest gated community in the US, and our veteran population is also the largest in the States. I think our li'l ersatz bbs chorus would be honored to "preserve" your arrangement of "Mansions of the Lord" and present it at appropriate times for our Villagers"
Nancy Foris, HI "Lifer" and BHS Associate Hot Springs Village, AK
"I am here in Norfolk Va (home of the US Navy) and I can think of no better song for my chorus to sing."
Bill Byrd, Norfolk, VA
"I do like the song and words and the way your arrangement maintains the dignity of the music. ... The fact that it is in the singable range of all parts is a major plus in this day of assuming singers can sing any note in good quality... I know I have had to shelve other arrangements because of that..."
Danny Tryon, Langley, British Columbia
Followup from Danny Tryon: "I just got back from a great rehearsal night where we looked at your arrangement. I certainly heard many positive comments about the arrangement, the moving tag with the powerful chords of course the wonderful message in the song... Mike Wilcox, the other co-director, said that several years ago a man who came out to the chorus for a very short time gave him a CD of the cadets singing this song from the movie and asked if we could ever sing that song....he had just been diagnosed with cancer and unfortunately died a few months later... Mike said he has often played that CD and thought of that gentleman and wished that someday there would be an arrangement so when he heard this tonight he could hardly contain himself....So I will be contacting the Society and arranging for legal copies....and we will sing this on our Remembrance Day Show. Thanks again for taking a risk and putting part of yourself out there.... We all appreciate it...."
Danny Tryon, Langley, British Columbia
"Thank you SO much for sharing the chart and the trax. The song is beautiful and your arrangement is perfectly suited to it. I will pursue it with our quartet: I just know they'll love it, too. We have already talked about a couple of venues where we would be able to serve others through our voices"
Stephen Rafe, Brunswick, MD
"Thank you Bob, WOW, I just got through listening to this very special song and I had tears in my eyes.I know our chorus will love this. We have a patriotic show once a year, just before the forth of July, at the church that provides our rehearsal site. I was hoping to add several new songs next year and I can't wait to perform this for our audience. You are right, powerful in its simplicity and very moving. I will let you know how we perform. Thanks again for passing this along and sharing this great song."
Doug McMillan Director of The Mainstreet Harmonizers, Lexington,SC
"Bob, I would also LOVE to have this arrangement along with the tracks. Our chorus annually presents a tribute concert on Sept 11 each year. It's free to the community and we get several other choruses involved. This would be an excellent addition to that concert."
Steve Patrick, Hurricane, WV
"It has a very plaintive melody and the lyrics are very poignant. Thanks again! I can't wait to find 3 other guys to sing it!"
Freeman Groat, Nashville TN
"We are doing a patriotic show this Spring and "Mansions" is a part of it. The Chorus has tried it a time or two and they like it very much. Thank you for arranging it, a lot of my friends and I have served and have nothing but respect for your wonderful arrangement."
Don Miller, Inland Empire Chapter, California
"What a beautiful song. You did it justice that's for sure. Bob, the song is one that could be put into any chorus or QT rep and used regardless. For as long as our country's have been involved in this mess, it could be used at any singout just as a show piece rather than primarily for a funeral. It's worth singing in any church service especially on Memorial Day. Problem now is finding three other guys to sing with me.....Not a lot of Barbershopping going on out here in Afghanistan. Once again, thanks for making this available. It truly is a touching piece of music."
G. Wayne Jackson, Nashville TN, and BABS Presentation Judge, currently serving in Afghanistan