I’ve actually finished a fair amount of music this month: a setting of the beginning of Psalm 19, which was one of the pieces featured in my MPhil upgrade (which I passed, hurrah!), and also a setting of “There Is No Rose of Such Virtue” to have its world premiere in January, all being well. Obviously I can’t put something I’ve promised as a world premiere online before then; and in the meantme, I’d like to leave the setting of Psalm 19 to sit for a while before I put it online.

Instead, here’s a setting of some words by James Merrick:

VINTRY 77 77 77 pdf file

And here it is played by robot clarionets:

1. Lift your voice, and thankful sing
Praises to our Heavenly King.
Be the Lord our only theme,
Who of Gods is God supreme;
For his blessings far extend,
And his mercy knows no end.

2. He asserts his just command,
By the wonders of his hand,
He whose wisdom thron’d on high,
built the mansions of the sky;
For his blessings far extend,
And his mercy knows no end.

3. He who bade the watery deep,
Under earth’s foundation sleep;
And the orbs that gild the pole,
Through the boundless ether roll;
For his blessings far extend,
And his mercy knows no end.

4. Thou, O sun, whose powerful ray
Rules the empire of the day;
You, O moon and stars, whose light
Gilds the darkness of the night:
For his blessings far extend,
And his mercy knows no end.

5. He with food sustains, O earth,
All who claim from thee their birth;
Yield the homage that his name
From a creature’s lips may claim;
For his blessings far extend,
And his mercy knows no end.

As usual, it’s available over at the Choral Public Domain Library, and it’s under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license.

Many thanks to everyone who supports me in making my compositions available for free likes this: here’s how you can help.

Another Double Psalm Chant

I was asked to compose a psalm chant for Psalm 91, for the University of London Church Choir to sing on our tour to Ripon Cathedral last week.

I can’t share the recording with you yet, as I haven’t heard it; but I hope to be able to eventually. In the meantime, the PDF and midi file are on the Choral Public Domain Library as usual. Also as usual, it’s under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, so you can use it for free as long as you clearly attribute me and you don’t prevent anyone else from copying and sharing it. If you like having access to my compositions in this way, you could support me in a number of ways; thanks ever so much to those of you who already do.

What else have I been up to this summer? There was the week in Ely, singing, toward the end of which I came down with a stinkin’ cold; there was part of a week in Somerset with my beloved spreadsheet mining husband, during which I attempted to recover from said cold; there was a week at home in which we both attempted to recover from said cold (sigh…), and then the week in Ripon, for much of which I wasn’t feeling at all well. I got through it, though, and had almost recovered my usual vocal range by the end. I’m sure the clean air up there helped!

Ripon Cathedral Choir (43048528371)

These next few months will be fearsomely busy. I need to do my MPhil upgrade (no, really, I have to actually do it), and I need to compose all the music for my Big Final Project, as well as getting back into the swing of Cecilia’s List and various commissions. At the moment I’m trying not to feel too overwhelmed, and instead have spent some time this week trying to get my ducks* in a row so that I can prioritise that work and not worry too much about other stuff. The ducks think this is a wonderful game, and keep swimming off in other directions.

*Not real ducks. It’s probably just as well.


I’m singing in Ely Cathedral this week, and staying in a guest house in Waterbeach, so I wrote a hymn tune today.

Here are the words, by Nathaniel Cotton:

1. Affliction is a stormy deep,
Where wave resounds to wave;
Though o’er my head the billows roll,
I know the Lord can save.

2. The hand that now withholds my joys
Can reinstate my peace:
And He who bade the tempest roar,
Can bid that tempest cease.

3. When darkness and when sorrows rose
And pressed on every side,
The Lord has still sustained my steps,
And still has been my Guide.

4. Here will I rest, and build my hopes,
Nor murmur at His rod;
He’s more than all the world to me,
My Health, my Life, my God!

(I left out one verse because it had the emphasis on the wrong syllable.)

The software I use to make the robots sing isn’t working with the midi file of this for some reason, and as I’m not at home I can’t put it into the big computer to see if that helps. But here’s the .pdf:

Waterbeach PDF

You can also download the pdf and also the midi file at the Choral Public Domain Library, as usual.

Ely Cathedral Choir, Cambridgeshire, UK - Photo by David Liff, License: CC BY-SA

Immigrant Jesus

I’m not an American citizen.

I don’t have a lot of spare money at the moment.

What I can do is write hymn tunes.

So I’ve written one to this text by Gary Alderson:

1. You ran from oppression,
Crossed the baking sand;
Found your own safety
In an alien land.

And Rachel’s still weeping, weeping,
Weeping for her children.

2. And you found a haven
In that far off place;
Shielded and welcomed
By a foreign race,

And Rachel’s still weeping, weeping,
Weeping for her children.

3. Fled here as a stranger;
Ran in hope and fear.
What kind of welcome
Shall this child find here?

And Rachel’s still weeping, weeping,
Weeping for her children.

4. Now torn from my mother,
Caged in a free land,
Immigrant Jesus,
Come and take my hand.

And Rachel’s still weeping, weeping,
Weeping for her children.

It’s available on CPDL and here. CC by-SA as usual. I’ll try to get an underlaid version up by tomorrow morning, too, for people who prefer hymns with the words under the dots.

IMMIGRANT JESUS in pdf format

Robot clarionets:

Me singing:

My Patreon patrons are paying me for this, but I’m donating a portion of the funds to RAICES at the beginning of next month. I don’t know how much that will be yet, because I’ve committed other funds to some commissions, but it’ll probably be half of whatever’s left after that.

Please consider making a donation if you can.

Painting by Fra Angelico - Flight into Egypt

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Here’s a little piece for the autumn, a setting of Emily Brontë’s poem “Fall, Leaves, Fall” for AATTBarB or SATTBarB a cappella; I’m thinking about doing an upper voices only arrangement, too, but I haven’t done anything about it just yet.

I know, I know, it isn’t autumn yet! But it is the time of year when some choirs are thinking about what they will programme for the next year.

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

As usual, the music is available from the Choral Public Domain Library under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, and also available to purchase from Lulu.

I make this music available for free, but that means I don’t get royalties and I don’t sell many paper copies, so I need your financial help for this to be viable. If you’d like to have all my new music posted to you, or some other goodies, by snail mail*, please consider a monthly subscription, or supporting me via Patreon. If you’d prefer to support me anonymously, LiberaPay will allow you to do that.

*Snail mail not actually posted by snails. I’m sorry. It would take too long, and it would be cruel, and the envelopes would probably get slimy.

Music for Lent 1: Angelis suis

(If I’ve done this correctly it should post on Wednesday night, UK time…)

Vitrail Florac 010609 09 Ange Gardien

Ready or not, Lent is upon us.

In January, Sally Martin-Brown asked me if I had anything suitable for the University of London Church Choir visit to Jerusalem. I had a rummage through my notebooks, sure I’d started something at some point, and sure enough, there was a sort of skeleton of this piece, the Latin version of Psalm 91:11-12: Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te: ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis. In manibus portabunt te, ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. (God shall give his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee in their hands: that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.)

I’m hoping to record the piece while we’re in Jerusalem, but in the meantime, here are some robots:

Angelis suis as sung by robots (mp3 from MIDI)

As usual you can download the score from CPDL. Please don’t sing it before Sunday, though, when we’ll be singing the world premiere of it at the site believed to be where Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan.

If you like this music and want to help me compose more, please consider supporting me in one of these ways. Thanks so much!

Patreon Shenanigans

Patreon is changing their fee structure to one in which patrons pay more than the amount of their pledge, and creators get a lower percentage of what patrons actually pay.

Lots of people are upset about this, and rightly so.

I’ve had misgivings about Patreon for a while: the way they keep trying to encourage people to have walled gardens (yuck); the way they prioritize shiny tools for very popular creators over things that would make life easier for the rest of us (support for multiple currencies, anyone?); the way the text editor for posts is so difficult to use.

Platforms come and go, and what the most recent changes tell me is that this one may be on the way out, or may be changing to something that won’t work well for me, given my commitment to Creative Commons licensing.

The long and short of it is that I’ve decided that, while I will continue at Patreon for the time being, I’m also branching out into other crowdfunding in a much more serious way. It really doesn’t feel like a good idea to have all my eggs in the Patreon basket any more, no matter how much I like the pay-per-work model that has been so helpful for me over the last four years.

What that means for today is that I now have a Subscriptions page where you can, er, subscribe. In return there are quarterly rewards like stickers and postcards and printed music.

I’ve also opened an account at Liberapay, though I have no idea whether it will come to anything; and I’m going to be experimenting in coming months with a tip jar style of thing, possibly using Ko-fi, possibly some kind of rolling my own so that it can be for £1 instead of £3, because that’s a big difference. I haven’t quite figured out the entire strategy yet, and it’s bound to take time.

The bottom line for me is that I want to keep putting my choral music online for free, so that people can sing it whether they happen to have money to pay for it or not. How that gets funded is less important to me than that it happens.

Colwall 87 87 887 (Lo, in the wilderness a voice)

I have a new project, Cecilia’s List, where (among other things) I make weekly recommendations for music composed by women and other underrepresented groups that’s suitable for church use. I’ve only really just gotten started, and so I still have a lot of music to look through and add.

This week I’ve had a bit of a struggle trying to find something suitable for Advent II, which is very much John the Baptist oriented. It’s entirely possible that, in all the recommendations I’ve been sent, there was something suitable and I’ve missed it. But there comes a point for any composer where the easiest way to solve a problem is to write more music…

So here is Colwall, a tune to Percy Dearmer’s “Lo, in the wilderness a voice”. I’ve modified the words slightly to make them more inclusive, though I couldn’t work out a good way of dealing with “cruel men” so left it in there, since there are still quite a few of those about.

1 Lo, in the wilderness a voice
‘Make straight the way’ is crying:
When all are turning from the light,
And hope and love seem dying,
The prophet comes to make us clean:
‘There standeth one you have not seen,
Whose voice you are denying.’

2 God give us grace to hearken now
To those who come to warn us,
Give sight and strength, that we may kill
The vices that have torn us,
Lest love professed should disappear
In creeds of hate, contempt, and fear,
That crush and overturn us.

3 When from the vineyard cruel men
Cast out the heavenly powers
And all the world denies its Lord,
The earth in ruin cowers.
Now come, O God, in thy great might!
Unchanged, unchanging is thy right,
Unswayed thy justice towers.

I asked my friend the Revd Dr Catherine Dowland-Pillinger to name this tune, since I spent some time with her today and was thinking of her when I wrote it, and since I haven’t asked her to name a tune yet. She chose Colwall, a village in Herefordshire where her husband Eric’s ancestors lived for centuries.

Here are some robot clarionets playing it:

And here is a download of the sheet music in .pdf format: Colwall.pdf

PDF and mp3 also available for download from the Choral Public Domain Library.

Like this? Lovely! Please consider buying me a hot chocolate vi Ko-Fi or supporting my work in some other way. Thanks so much.

I would not paint — a picture —

I was delighted to be asked to write a piece for the Chapel Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen, for them to sing on St Cecilia’s Day this year.

A cream and yellow drawing of a rose -- Study of a Rose LACMA M.73.136

I chose this text by Emily Dickinson at the suggestion of Catherine Fox:

I would not paint — a picture —
I’d rather be the One
It’s bright impossibility
To dwell — delicious — on —
And wonder how the fingers feel
Whose rare — celestial — stir —
Evokes so sweet a torment —
Such sumptuous — Despair —

I would not talk, like Cornets —
I’d rather be the One
Raised softly to the Ceilings —
And out, and easy on —
Through Villages of Ether —
Myself endued Balloon
By but a lip of Metal —
The pier to my Pontoon —

Nor would I be a Poet —
It’s finer — Own the Ear —
Enamored — impotent — content —
The License to revere,
A privilege so awful
What would the Dower be,
Had I the Art to stun myself
With Bolts — of Melody!

I tried to capture the start and stop — of all those dashes, and the Emphasis conveyed by some of the Words being capitalised. And underneath all that, I added 1 Corinthians 14:15: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. That comes as part of a long lecture about praying in tongues, but also about women being silent in church, which I am definitely not.

Here are some robotic clarionets playing it:

And here is a .pdf file if you want to follow along.

As usual it’s available on the Choral Public Domain Library, under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike licence: so you can copy it and sing it and so on, without having to ask me for specific permission. I’m also trying to get a print copy on Lulu, but I’m struggling somewhat with the interface, so we’ll see.

I’m able to put my music online for free like this because of my kind supporters at Patreon. If you’re able to, please join them in sponsoring me.