Book of Common Prayer (E)
This is one of the most extended of Finzi’s shorter choral works, and was written for the choir of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the composer’s first overseas commission. It was intended for a Christmas Vespers service, rather than for standard liturgical use, concluding with an Amen not a Gloria, and the composer planned an orchestral version from the onset. It is typical of Finzi’s lyrical approach with a great deal of contrapuntal writing. There is also great drama in the work, with the scattering of the proud, and the shewing of strength being particularly forceful. The solo parts are generally brief but telling, and there is a section for semi-chorus. The final Amen is similar in nature to the great conclusion Finzi wrote for Lo, the full, final sacrifice. Arrangements for chorus and orchestra are also available.