To Music: A Song - Poem by Robert Herrick, Psalm 105:vv 1-5
World premiere of version
Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool
Choir of Liverpool Cathedral, Choir of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral / Stephen Layton
Choral level of difficulty: 3 (5 greatest)
This is another outpouring of praise using a Psalm text (105, verses 1-5) but adding to it a wonderful poem by Robert Herrick To Music. A Song. As the anthem was commissioned by the Friends of Cathedral Music to mark their Diamond Jubilee in 2016, this is appropriate indeed and ends the work by considering all the things music can do – ‘Thou that tam’st tygers, and fierce storms (that rise) With thy soul-melting Lullabies’.
MacMillan has set the anthem for SATB with a very small amount of divisi for sopranos and tenors. It is accompanied either by organ or strings who have a very energetic time of it. The choral parts are straightforward and are mostly in separated phrases with no use of counterpoint. Herrick’s poem is used as the contrasting central section which is soft and beguiling before the helter-skelter of the opening returns briefly and the strings or organ carry the piece to an ‘obsessive’ ending!
This is another anthem like Praise ye the Lord which is easily singable by many choirs but which requires more expert organ accompaniment or the use of a competent string group.
Repertoire Note by Paul Spicer