Witness is one of the most harmonically pure and uncomplicated of Moerane’s eight arrangements of spirituals, a beautiful evocation, gospel-like in its intensity. It is in call-and-response form, like his arrangement of It’s Me, O Lord: the Soprano leads and the chorus mostly hums or echoes the words ‘for my Lord’. Exactly which written or recorded source Moerane used for the tune we do not know, but he may have encountered it in one of the many songbooks of American folk tunes and spirituals that were printed around the turn of the 20th century, and he possibly made the setting in the late 1930s, which was when Lovedale Press published his arrangement of Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen. In order to help choirs learn Moerane’s choral version, a free rehearsal mp3 at a slow tempo is downloadable when the song is purchased.
The audio sample below was generated from the Sibelius file of the score and the image on the right shows the first page of the score.