One of the challenges of my job is finding music appropriate for our small choir at St Andrew’s. The Anglican choral tradition is wonderful and beautiful and has a tendency to assume you have altos, tenors, basses and a positive horde of boy sopranos at your disposal. The reality is a bit different, and attempting the music of a large, well-stocked cathedral when we are a tiny parish with an accordingly small (though mighty) choir would be putting the worship of a certain style above the worship of God. We do what we can, with what we have. Sometimes that means some arranging or composing on my part.
I was pleased, then, to enter the Small Choirs Competition. The piece I submitted did not take first or second place, but Philip Norman has asked if it could be performed as part of the Small Choirs Festival in February.
The text is by Thomas Thurman, and is included in Time blew away like dandelion seed:
What’s seen is seen, and cannot be unknown;
and so he turned my soul, and turns it still.
We’d walked a while, just him and us alone;
we’d wandered up some ordinary hill.
The air was cold. The conversation died.
I wondered if I’d left the stove alight.
The curtains of the world were torn aside,
and naked glory overwhelmed my sight;
and oh, the voice, that called to him by name,
so comforting, so terrible to hear:
that man I knew, the same, yet not the same,
touches my arm, and tells me not to fear;
but as I raise my eyes, the light is gone,
and life, and something more, must carry on.
Written as part of a Lenten meditation series at Christ Church, Pottstown.
This is set for Soprano (Alto+Baritone) and organ, but can also be performed unison; there are a couple of short solos for a confident singer, but these two are optional. I think it’s a good example of the sort of thing that can be done with not many singers. I’ll try and see if the performance at the Small Choirs Festival can be recorded, so you can have an idea what it sounds like with people instead of MIDI robots.