David Gillingham has masterfully merged the Christmas carols "I Saw Three Ships" and "In the Bleak Midwinter" to create an original, rollicking arrangement for wind band that students & audiences will find irresistible on a holiday concert.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 3 | Duration: 2:45
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
Timpani (4 drums)
Percussion 1 (Bells [shared], Xylophone, Ribbon Crasher)
Percussion 2 (Vibraphone, Claves, Marimba [4.3-octave, shared])
Percussion 3 (Crash Cymbals, Bells [shared], Marimba [4.3-octave, shared])
Percussion 4 (Bongos, Bass Drum [shared], Triangle, Snare Drum [shared])
Percussion 5 (Congas, Snare Drum [shared], Bells [shared])
Percussion 6 (Tambourine, Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum [shared])
Three Ships is based on two traditional Christmas carols of contrasting mood, "I Saw Three Ships" and "In the Bleak Midwinter." The first is lilting and upbeat while the latter is somewhat melancholy and heartfelt. "I Saw Three Ships" dates back to the 17th century and "In the Bleak Midwinter" is based on a poem written by Christina Rossetti in 1872, and later set to music by Gustav Holst in 1906 (The English Hymnal). The work begins with both carols being stated followed by a short development section featuring the percussion. Then, in “tour-de-force” style, a slightly modified version of "I Saw Three Ships" is combined with "In the Bleak Midwinter." A short coda stating the final phrase of "I Saw Three Ships" concludes the piece in upbeat style.