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- How do I love thee? (SATB)
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for mixed voices (SATB div) a cappella
Text: English (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Duration: 3 minutes
Use: General, Wedding, Love
This anthem was composed for the service of thanksgiving for the Civil Partnership of Tom Davies and Paull Hammond which took place in the chapel of Hertford College, Oxford in June 2011. In looking for a suitable text I turned again to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61), one of whose sonnets I had used for another wedding anthem (Love is beautiful indeed) a few years earlier. Another Civil Partnership anthem had preceded the Hammond-Davies one in 2007. It is wonderful now to be able to celebrate all these happy occasions in music whether for a man and a woman or, more recently, for two men or women.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61)
Paul Spicer is one of the UK’s most widely respected choral conductors. He studied at the Royal College of Music where he was a composition student of Herbert Howells. As director of the Finzi Singers, he made many recordings on the Chandos label focusing on his specialist area of 20th century British music, and he currently conducts the Birmingham Bach Choir and the Whitehall Choir in London. He teaches choral conducting at Oxford and Durham Universities, and at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he also directs the Chamber Choir which has an increasing reputation through its regular recordings. Paul’s choral workshops take him all over the world and his English Choral Experience foundation runs choral courses in the UK and Europe. He has written biographies of Herbert Howells and Sir George Dyson and his compositional output includes the large-scale Easter Oratorio and Advent Oratorio, a choral symphony Unfinished Remembering, and The Deciduous Cross, a five movement work for choir and wind instruments, as well as many smaller-scale works.
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