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- Love is beautiful indeed (SATB)
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for mixed voices (SATB div) & organ
Text: English (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Duration: 3 minutes
Use: General, Wedding, Love
This anthem was written for the wedding of Michael Leach and Hayley Carthy in Wellington Cathedral, New Zealand in 2006. It sets an extraordinary poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61), part of the tenth sonnet in Sonnets from the Portuguese. It begins unaccompanied with warm harmony but quickly moves to reflect the words ‘Fire is bright…and love is fire’, at which point the organ enters strongly to accompany the deeply impassioned central section before the mood relaxes and the piece returns to the quiet reflection of the opening.
Recommended recording: Come out, Lazar – The shorter choral works of Paul Spicer (Regent REGCD280) by The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, directed by Sarah MacDonald.
Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
And worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,
Let temple burn, or flax; an equal light
Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed:
And love is fire. And when I say at need
I love thee . . . mark! . . . I love thee – in thy sight
I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
With conscience of the new rays that proceed
Out of my face toward thine.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61)
Sonnets from the Portuguese, no 10 (1847) (excerpt)
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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