I wrote this in 2009 for the Rev Dr Catherine Dowland Pillinger. Before she was ordained she was the Head of Student Services at Trinity College of Music. She was a great support to me while there, and I wanted to thank her in a way appropriate to her new role. I agonised over the text: I had no desire at that stage to call myself Christian, but I also saw clearly that her care for the students she supported was inseparable from her faith. She treated all of us as beloved children of God. For me, that changed everything.
St Mary’s Addington took a bit of a risk by letting me write for them; I didn’t have much other work to show them, I had no formal training in composition, and none of my other choral works had been sung in public. I suppose if I’d written something entirely unsuitable they would have found a way to let me down gently. And I did do plenty of groundwork for this composition, not only taking great care with the text but attending rehearsals over a year in advance and even joining in with the choir for Evensong when I could.
I’m still rather glad I did.