Only Glad Tidings(2018)
Boosey & Hawkes
St Paul's Cathedral, London
British Red Cross
Music by Karl Jenkins
Text by Carol Barratt
I was approached by Wendy Drew, following a suggestion by Classic FM, to compose a choral piece for the Festive Concert at St. Paul's Cathedral in aid of the British Red Cross. The brief proved to be a challenging one: to compose a seasonal, secular carol, around the theme of loneliness. For the text I planned to work with my long-time collaborator, the writer and music educationalist Carol Barratt (Lady Jenkins)! I was excited to begin composing for this wonderful charity.
Carol soon came up with “Only glad tidings” as a refrain so this became the focal point and a ‘hook’ for the work. To accommodate the varying moods of the poem we structured the piece with the initial chorus (A) repeating after different verses (B, C, D) creating an overall Rondo structure (ABACADA), rather than the form of a conventional hymn or song. The main (A) material repeats with the verses acting as excursions with more reflective and distressing text, as shown in the verse below:
'Holly leaves so sharp and painful
Signify the hurt, the wounded.
People in the midst of torment
Need our help, need our help.'
Part carol, part anthem, the piece lasts for six and a half minutes.
Programme note © Karl Jenkins 2018
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.