I sing of a maiden

Vierge Marie

Here is my .PDF of “I sing of a maiden”

I sing of a maiden PDF file.

Here is the robot clarionet rendition:

Text:

I sing of a maiden that is makeless;
King of all kings to her son she ches.

He came all so still where his mother was
As dew in April that falleth on the grass:

He came all so still to his mother’s bower,
As dew in April that falleth on the flower.

He came all so still where his mother lay,
As dew in April that falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden was never none but she:
well may such a lady God’s mother be.

As usual, this work is under a CC by-SA license, meaning you can download, sing, arrange and perform it for free, on condition that you share any derivative works: you must allow recordings, for example.

This Endris Night

St Mary's Church, Kennington, Kent - Stained Glass Nativity scene, photo by John Salmon

If you’re looking for a relatively straightforward SATB carol, you might enjoy my setting of This Endris Night:

This endris night, I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day,
And ever among this maiden sung,
Lully, by by, lullay.

1. This lovely lady sat and sang, and to her child did say,
My son, my brother, my father dear, why liest thou thus in hay?
My sweet bird, though it betide, thou not be King veray,
But nevertheless, I will not cease to sing by by lullay.

2. The Child then spake in his talking, and to his mother he said:
I bekydde am in heaven as King, in crib though I be laid;
For angels bright down to me light, thou knowst it is no nay;
And of that sight, thou mayst be light to sing by by lullay.

3. Now sweet son, since thou art King, why art thou laid in stall?
Why not ordain thy bedding in some great kingès hall?
Methink it right that king or knight should lie in good array,
And then among, it were no wrong to sing, by by, lullay.

4. Mary, mother, I am thy child, though in a manger lay,
Lords and dukes shall worship me, and so shall kingès all,
Ye shall well see that kingès three shall come on the twelfth day,
For this behest, give me thy breast, and sing by by, lullay, lullay.

5. Now, sweet son, since it is so, all things are at thy will,
I pray thee, grant to me a boon, if it be right and skill,
That child or man that will or can be merry upon my day,
To bliss them bring, and I shall sing lully, by by, lullay.

This endris night, I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day,
And ever among this maiden sung,
Lully, by by, lullay.

Here are the usual robotic flutes:

This Endris Night PDF

As usual, this is under a CC by-SA license, so you can use it for free, on condition that you also share freely any derivative works (including recordings).

I am able to put this music online because of a community of supporters. If you’d like to be part of that community then please consider supporting me — even if all you can spare is a small amount, it makes a big difference to me when it adds up! If you’re already contributing, then please be assured of my thanks.

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