Good Friday

Chartres-051 - e1 - Mise au tombeau

Here’s my setting of ‘Good Friday’ by Christina Rossetti:

Am I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy Cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

There is a PDF of the score here or from the ChoralWiki; and this is, as usual, under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. That means you can have the score for free, make copies for free, perform it for free, and so on, but if you want to prevent people making copies of your arrangements, recordings or similar, you need to get in touch with me to negotiate other terms.

This is another movement from my Stations of the Cross.

The Passion

Francesco di Giorgio, Disrobing of Christ

I chose this poem by George Herbert for Station X in my Stations of the Cross, “Jesus is Stripped”. To have our clothing removed, particularly forcibly, is so vulnerable; but in asking Jesus to fill the emptiness of his heart and drive out sin, Herbert mirrors that vulnerability. Or so it seems to me, anyway…

The Passion

Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store; write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:

That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
No room for me, and fly away.

Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

My SATB setting of The Passion in PDF format.

As usual, this is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. That last bit means that you can print and photocopy and perform and record to your heart’s content: but you must also allow others to copy any derivative works under the same license. So none of this business of making a recording and then telling me it’s “not for public download,” as a number of choirs have now done: if you don’t want to abide by the terms of the license, then you’ll need to either pay me, or not sing my stuff. That’s the deal. That’s how it works.

Meanwhile, though: I do intend to keep putting my music online under CC by-SA. The occasional choir that doesn’t understand how the license works is a small annoyance compared to my feeling that music, and especially choral music, should be as freely available as possible. So if you’re one of my lovely supporters, thanks so much for making that possible! And if you’re not, and you’d like to help me keep composing and keep making my music available online, do have a look at the various options to support me.

Ave Verum Corpus

Andrea Solario - Lamentation over the Dead Christ - WGA21603

Here is my setting of the Ave Verum Corpus:

Ave Verum Corpus PDF file

Ave, verum corpus
natum de Maria Virgine:
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine:
cuius latus perforatum
unda fluxit sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum,
in mortis examine.
O dulcis, O pie, O Jesu, Fili Mariae.
Miserere mei. Amen.

In English:
Hail the true body,
born of the Virgin Mary:
You who truly suffered and were sacrificed
on the cross for the sake of man.
From whose pierced flank
flowed water and blood:
Be a foretaste for us
in the trial of death.
O sweet, O merciful, O Jesus, Son of Mary.
Have mercy on me. Amen.

I meant to post this for Corpus Christi, but ended up working on something else then.

As usual, this is licensed under CC BY SA and I can do that because of my kind supporters. Thank you so much!

Faithful Cross

Light through a stained glass window, cross, wall of the Marmor (Frederiks) Kirke Copenhagen Denmark

Here’s another movement from my Stations of the Cross — not really suitable for today’s feast of Ascension, but I didn’t want to wait until Holy Cross Day to post it.

Eventually I’ll do a Latin setting of this text. In the meantime, this SATB a cappella version is richer in texture than my SA and organ setting from 2010.

Faithful Cross, above all other,
One and only noble tree:
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be.
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron,
Sweetest weight is hung on thee!

Faithful Cross PDF

As usual, this is licensed under a CC by-SA license, which means you can copy it and sing it for free. You can download the PDF from CPDL too.

Many thanks to my supporters and patrons who make it possible for me to share this music for free; if you would like to join them, either in a regular monthly donation, a per-piece sponsorship or as a one-off, please have a look at my Support page to find an option that works for you.

Pigeons

A greyscale pencil drawing of a city seen from a hill, with pigeons in foreground and background. Artwork by Evan Jacques.

I do get the best texts to work with sometimes. I love this poem by Marnanel Thurman, which I set as part of my Stations of the Cross but also works well as a stand-alone piece:

Pigeons, to me, were always signs of hope:
even the whirl of wings against the air
would right me, show me once again the scope
of who I was and whose I was and where;
as when, in one deep shock of vertigo
I saw the city lie beneath my ledge
as flocks of pigeons played a mile below
and kept my feet from straying near the edge;
as blinking blinding water from my eyes
I rose again to reach the air above
and from the sundered sky, to my surprise
there flew from heights uncountable a dove;
as here, a final time, I watch them fly
and heal my hope as I am lifted high.

The poem references three incidents in the life of Christ — his baptism, temptation and crucifixion — told from the perspective of Jesus. The pigeons are an imaginative development of the traditional Christian symbolism of a dove signifying the Holy Spirit as advocate and comforter. In substituting pigeons – animals that are usually scorned as unclean and unwelcome – for doves, Thurman movingly articulates an affirming and welcoming vision of Christ, who greets the pigeons as signs of hope. I think this is an important message of comfort for people who have traditionally been marginalised, and a call to conscience for oppressors who aspire to Christian virtue.

Here are the robots singing:

Here is the SATB score:
Pigeons 2019-04-30

As usual, this work is free to download and copy under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. You can find a copy of Pigeons at the CPDL website, and if you want to support me in continuing to compose music like this please consider sponsoring my work.

Ave Maria

Vierge Marie -- A 12th-century Romanesque stained glass window of Virgin Mary in the Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

It was Refreshment Sunday today, and we had at least one of my favourite Marian hymns. Here’s my setting of the Ave Maria, then, played by robots:

Ave Maria PDF for download.

This is part of my Stations of the Cross, premiered in Aberdeen on 7th March; but I’m releasing it online now. Other pieces from the Stations that will work as stand-alone pieces will also be released in due course.

As usual, the sheet music for this is also available from my page at CPDL. The music is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike, or CC by-SA, which means you can sing it for free — but you must attribute it to me and mention the license, and you must allow recordings to be made.

If you would like to support me in sharing more music like this, you may get a warm fuzzy feeling from knowing you are doing good in the world, and I will definitely get a warm fuzzy feeling from getting closer to being able to support myself on my earnings.

There Is No Rose

Here is my setting of an anonymous text from around 1420:

It was wonderful to compose this for the Cathedral Singers of Ontario, who I’ve sung with for many years on their visits to the UK, and to sing it with them at Canterbury Cathedral early this month.

1. There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;
Alleluia.

2. For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space;
Res miranda.

3. And by that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
Pari forma.

4. The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:
Gaudeamus.

5. Now leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;
Transeamus.

6. Alleluia, res miranda,
Pari forma, gaudeamus,
Transeamus.

Res miranda — ‘wonderful thing’ or ‘miracle’
Pari forma — ‘equal in form’ — some sources use “pares forma” here, which is what we sang in Canterbury
Gaudeamus — ‘let us rejoice.’
Transeamus — ‘let us follow’ or ‘let us turn [from earth to heaven]‘

As usual, the sheet music for this is available from my page at CPDL — or you can download a pdf directly. I won’t trouble you with the singing robots this time since there is a choral version above! The music is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike, or CC by-SA, which means you can sing it for free — but you must attribute it to me and mention the license, and you must allow recordings to be made.

If you would like to support me in sharing more music like this, you will get a warm fuzzy feeling from knowing you are doing good in the world, and if you choose the appropriate support tier you will also receive a postcard of the rose below, which I commissioned from Delyth Williams.

A stained-glass style drawing of a red rose with green leaves, by Delyth Williams, used by permission

O Nata Lux

I’ve had my head down a lot recently with PhD work but here is one I wrote earlier: an a cappella SSA setting of O nata lux. It’s traditionally a text used for the Transfiguration — 6th August, but the readings also come up at the last Sunday before Lent.

No recording yet, but there is a .pdf:
O nata lux PDF
and, as usual, robot flutes:

O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes precesque sumere.

Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus es pro perditis,
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.

English translation:

O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with loving-kindness deign to receive
suppliant praise and prayer.

Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be members
of thy blessed body.

As usual, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, which means you can download, print, perform and record it for free without requiring further permission from me (but you must in turn share any derivative works, such as recordings, under similar terms: you can charge money if you like, you just cannot prohibit copying). This gift of music is made possible by my generous patrons, both on Patreon and through other channels.

Meanwhile — this week I am in Canterbury with the Cathedral Singers of Ontario, who are providing the music for Canterbury Cathedral. This will include the world premiere of my setting of There Is No Rose of Such Virtue at Evensong on Wednesday, 2nd January: do come along if you are in the area!

Christ Church, Southgate, London N14 - Window depicting the Transfiguration of Jesus

Just in time for Christmas: Gift Sponsorship Subscriptions

Some time ago, someone I know from Twitter got in touch to ask if she could purchase a gift subscription — and if so, would there be something to unwrap?

The answer was yes; in due course, I made a sponsorship subscription card and it’s currently with her, waiting to be unwrapped. It says:

Hurrah!
Someone lovely has given us both a gift by sponsoring me at the Crotchet level
on your behalf!
I compose sacred and secular choral music and put it online under a CC by-SA license so choirs can sing it for free. This gift of music is supported by my generous patrons.

And then there’s some information about how to find my music, and how to get in touch with me, and so on.

I like this idea a lot, so I’ve created four levels of yearly gift sponsorship which you can purchase through Payhip. You get a .pdf of the sponsorship card, which you can either print out or e-mail to your intended recipient; they can then send me their address by e-mail or post if they want to receive the rewards, or not if they are happy merely knowing that I’m being supported in my work of composing music and sharing it online. The rewards are the same as for my existing subscriptions, posted quarterly. All the gift sponsorships are for one year of support.

Quaver

Purchase Gift Sponsorship: Quaver
Reward: a postcard, or occasionally a sticker. Some of the postcards and stickers are art commissioned by me from independent artists; others are public domain art I like the look of and have printed; others are hand-drawn by me, usually of music I’ve written. Occasionally, you will get a folding notecard instead of a postcard, but it will be something new every quarter.

Crotchet

Purchase Gift Sponsorship: Crotchet
Reward: two postcards (one written to the recipient of the gift sponsorship, and a clean one for someone else), or a postcard and a sticker.

Minim (UK only)

Purchase Gift Sponsorship: Minim
Reward: a printed score of every new choral piece I put online for a year. This is usually going to be three works per quarter, but sometimes it will be more than that, and occasionally less. Shorter pieces are printed on heavy card, and longer ones I send off to have printed in saddle-stitch booklets with glossy covers, and I always use board-backed envelopes to prevent music being damaged in transit. I’ll throw in a postcard or two and some stickers, as well. All my choral music is legal for to photocopy and share, so getting it posted to you is a great way to build your choral library without having to think about it too hard or remember which website you found it on.

Dotted Minim (like Minim but international)

Purchase Gift Sponsorship: Dotted Minim
For international postage, my costs are significantly higher, so the Minim package costs £24/month.

For now, all the sponsorships have a second page with this Christmas tree artwork by Rose Gerard.

Description: A treble clef worked into a tree of celtic knotwork, adorned with musical-note baubles.

Musical tree