Heard only over the closing credits, “Hymn to the Fallen” could very well have been a piece like “Summon the Heroes,” written separate from the film as a lasting tribute. Very little of the film’s thematic material is used, and only at the very beginning of the six-minute piece. An Angelic chorus lifts the music to great heights before a silent drum cadence brings it to a close. This is Williams’ way of rewarding the audience for making it to the end of such a gut-wrenching film. “Hymn to the Fallen” is one of the reasons the score to Saving Private Ryan is an instant classic and certainly one of his best in recent years.
—Jeff Commings, John Williams Fan Network
The “Hymn to The Fallen” is one of John Williams’ most astounding pieces. The simple tune carries the weight of all who died in the war. From the snare solo in the beginning, the theme begins softly, with a beautiful choral part. The music is never too sad or depressing. Even when the tension builds, the tears that are yanked from your eyes come not from the sadness of the piece, but from its profound beauty. One of the most glorious parts of the track is the brass’ interpretation of the theme. It rises up in dignity, and dies back down, letting way for another, stronger rendition of the theme, once again with the theme. The entire orchestra swells in a majestic, grandiose rendition, building up to the soaring climax, and sweeping down back to the calm. A lonely clarinet/bassoon duet leads into the conclusion, with the snare drum growing only to fade back.
—Frank Lehman, John Williams Fan Network