Some of my favourite words in the New Testament are from the Benedictus: said or sung at Morning Prayer in the Anglican tradition, this canticle is the song of Zechariah at the birth of his son, John the Baptist.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel : for he hath visited, and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us : in the house of his servant David;
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets : which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies : and from the hands of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers : and to remember his holy Covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham : that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies : might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him : all the days of our life.
And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people : for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God : whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Those last words, which I have put in bold format, are the ones that prompted me to begin this setting, some time ago. I decided to write it in what I think of as “slightly post West Gallery anthem style” in the hopes that the London Gallery Quire, of which I am a member, would sing it. We did a draft at a rehearsal, then I put it aside for a while, and only returned to revise it this spring.
As usual, this work is licensed under CC BY-SA and PDF and MIDI files are available at CPDL. But this piece will also be performed, with yours truly conducting, at the two London Gallery Quire summer concerts. I do hope to see some of you there!
The first concert is at St. George’s German Lutheran Church, 55 Alie Street, London E1 8EB, on Wednesday 18th June at 7pm. Tickets are £5 and doors open 6.30pm.
If you miss that one, or like it so much you want another, the next is at St Peter-in-the-Forest, Woodford New Road, Walthamstow, E17 3PP,
on Saturday 28th June 2014 at 7pm.
Eventually, I could be convinced to follow up with a Te Deum… that is a much longer text and would pose quite a challenge!