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Set me as a sealfor mixed choir (SATB div) a cappella
Text: English (Biblical)
Duration: 3 minutes
Difficulty: 2/5
Use: General, Wedding/Civil ceremony

Composer's note
The Old Testament book Song of Solomon, also known as Song of Songs, is a sequence of lyric poems that features the voices of two lovers, one male and one female, and their professions of love for each other. This straightforward setting of words from Chapter 8 for unaccompanied SATB choir was written for the wedding service of Charlotte Baber and Jack Churchill in July 2005.

The piece is a gentle and lyrical love song and should be sung at a steady and measured pace with a sense of space and poise. The opening phrase is sung in syncopation between the upper and lower voices – this should be smooth and flowing and the lower parts should not be accented. The verse ‘Many waters cannot quench love’ at bars 24 and 32 features undulating lines in the alto and tenor parts that should be clearly present but not dominate the texture. The opening section is reprised at bar 47 and requires thoughtful balancing so as to support but not overwhelm the emerging soprano solo. The final phrase may need careful tuning, particularly in the bass part, as the music gently subsides.

"The piece...makes an attractive impression, the rising contours of the opening melody giving the right uplifting mood for a wedding, and emphasis on the words 'love is strong as death' as the choir divides into seven parts which is entirely appropriate for such an occasion." (David Lindley, Organists' Review, Dec 2015)

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.

adapted from the Song of Solomon 8:6–7
The King James Bible

Ian Carpenter
Ian leads a busy double life as an engineer and a composer, having studied engineering at the University of Durham and composition at the University of Bristol. He is an active choral singer with the Bristol-based chamber choir Exultate Singers and has written numerous works for a range of forces. His anthem Blessed are all they that fear the Lord was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and May the road rise up to meet you was featured on BBC 1’s Songs of Praise. Two of his carols, Dormi Jesu and Deck the hall were recorded by City of Bristol Choir for their debut CD, Realms of Glory, released in 2013. Recent commissions include The St Mary Redcliffe Mass for the Occasional Choir of St Mary Redcliffe Parish Church, Bristol and upcoming premieres include a new setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, written for the lay clerks of Bristol Cathedral.

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