We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Trumpet Voluntary?

By Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A trumpet voluntary is a classical, English-based musical composition that was especially popular during the Baroque period. Although the term "trumpet voluntary" conjures the idea that a trumpet performs the works, these compositions technically are for a solo keyboard instrument. The name comes from the fact that originally, the works generally were performed by organists utilizing the organ's trumpet stop.

By definition, it is not a religious piece of music, but organists used the pieces with high frequency before, during and after religious services. The works essentially were "filler" music that were not part of the regular service. The use of the voluntary in this function did not mean the work was of insignificant quality. Many are masterpieces in their own right and were selected for use specifically because the organist felt the musicality of the compositions made them deserving of performance.

There is no set form for these compositions because it was how the works were performed — with the trumpet stop before, during or after a service — that truly designated whether they fit the voluntary definition, not the form of the work. It is fairly standard, however, for a trumpet voluntary to start with a slower tempo. Once the performer has played this slower introduction, the tempo usually changes to a faster speed. The left hand usually plays an accompanying chord pattern or theme, with the right hand providing a fanfare.

Another reason why no set form for a trumpet voluntary exists is that organists usually improvised the works. Good organists did not find this especially difficult to do, because they had been trained in theory and counterpoint. This is an important fact, because it draws a clear line between "true practice" voluntaries and the ones that have become famous because they were written down and now are performed according to what is present on the music page.

When musicians had a written version of a voluntary they liked, they quickly made arrangements of it to suit their own instruments. This allowed the voluntary to move out of the church setting and into homes as entertainment music. Eventually, trumpet voluntaries made their way into concert halls and onto professional studio recordings.

Out of all the compositions labeled as a trumpet voluntary, perhaps the most famous is the "Prince of Denmark March." Contemporary musicians also know this work loosely as the "Trumpet Voluntary in D," although it is certainly not the only voluntary in that key. This work, composed by Jeremiah Clarke and misattributed for years to Henry Purcell, is used with regularity for weddings worldwide. It was a selection in the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer of England.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Feb 21, 2014

I used the "Trumpet Voluntary in D" by Clarke for my wedding processional. I did *not* want the Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride) by Wagner -- no way, no how. I don't like that piece to start with, and it's so overused. The "Trumpet Voluntary," however, is a beautiful piece and while recognizable, is not overdone.

My recessional was the hymn "Crown Him with Many Crowns." The tune is "Diademata" by George J. Elvey, and was composed for the words it accompanies. That’s not always the case, but was with this hymn.

Clarke's "Trumpet Voluntary" is such a great piece and I always enjoy hearing it.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.