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Britten, Benjamin: Hymn to St Peter op. 56a (1955) 6'


for choir (SATB with treble solo) and organ

Music Text  
from the Gradual of the Feast of St Peter and St Paul
Abbreviations (PDF)

Territory
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

Repertoire Note  
Choral level of difficulty: Level 3 (5 greatest)

Written for the Quincentenary of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich in 1955 and based on the plainsong ‘Tu es Petrus’ which is loudly declaimed on the organ in unison before the choir’s first entry. This more extended anthem picks up on elements which Britten had used in his Hymn to St. Cecilia thirteen years earlier. The broad unison melody with which the choral parts start is similar, however, to the opening of the Hymn of St. Columba. It is the middle section written as a scherzo which is reminiscent of the section in the St. Cecilia hymn at figure 8 (‘I cannot grow; I have no shadow to run away from...’). This is also the part of this anthem which might give less able choirs some trouble. It needs to be sung ‘quickly and lightly’ as Britten indicates and his metronome mark at dotted crotchet = 112 is indeed fast! But the notes are not difficult and they certainly reward detailed work. The next section is a reprise of the opening which moves into a dying Alleluia. The final section has lovely solo (or semi-chorus) phrases in Latin separated by very soft choral interjections translating these phrases into English.

It makes a very effective concert or liturgical work (see comments in Hymn to St. Columba about programming).

Repertoire note by Paul Spicer

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