I recently composed two new compositions: a setting of a popular Advent hymn and a solo/choral work memorializing those who have died in the pandemic. You can listen to midi recordings of these yet to be performed works.
Prepare the Royal Highway was commissioned by the Sacred Music Program of Lenoir-Rhyne University as a processional for the 2021 Christmas at Lenoir-Rhyne concerts. The setting is for SATB, Solo Soprano, Violin, Piano, Organ, Brass, Percussion, and Audience. I have combined two Swedish melodies that have carried this popular Advent text. The ornamented folk tune is rendered by the soprano and choir while the 17th century hymn tune is taken up by the organ, brass ensemble, and audience. It will be exciting to hear the result!
A Future Waking for SATB, Tenor Solo, Organ, and optional Violin is a setting of two prayers of John Donne that appear at the conclusion of a sermon from February 1628. This work faithfully sets Donne’s words, distinguishing it from Father Milner-White’s prayer known as Our Last Awakening so beautifully set by other composers, which includes only select portions of Donne’s sermon. Here is the full text:
Bring us, Lord, to a future waking in a glorious resurrection,
that we may enter heaven’s gate, and dwell in thy house
where there shall be
no cloud nor sun, no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light,
no noise nor silence, but one equal music,
no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession,
no foes nor friends, but one equal communion and identity,
no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity.
Keep us, Lord, so awake in the duties of our callings,
that we may thus sleep in thy peace, and wake in thy glory,
in that kingdom which thy Son our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us,
with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. Amen
(John Donne, from the conclusion of a sermon based on Acts 7:60 preached
at White Hall, February 29, 1628; additions in italics are by the composer but
drawn from other allusions or language in the sermon.)
A Future Waking is based almost entirely on a Tenor Solo composed this summer for Brian Thorsett of Virginia Tech, which carries the title of Donne’s sermon, And When He Had Said This. Unlike the choral/solo setting which includes only Donne’s prayers, And When He Had Said This begins with a recitative of Acts 7:59-60, which served as the basis of Donne’s whole sermon. After Stephen pleads for God to pardon his executioners, the account of Stephen’s stoning ends, “And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Donne preached that a Christian experiences death as “sleep” after fulfilling Christ’s call to speak, to serve, and to forgive as the church’s first martyr had done.
Please contact me if you would like to preview either of these settings of John Donne or my expanded Advent hymn arrangement.