for mixed choir (SSAATBB) a cappella
Text: English (Walter de la Mare)
Use: Christmas, Winter
Walter De La Mare’s poem Clouded with snow paints an atmospheric picture of late afternoon in winter and I was drawn to the image of a bleak yet beautiful landscape with the faint glow of a watery sun setting over fields of white.
I attempted to create a sense of wintery stillness through the ‘oo’s of the opening bars with their slightly bare harmonies, out of which the melody emerges. The tune then weaves its way through the upper and lower voices, with the texture thickening to illustrate the shedding of the sun’s rays in verse two and the drawing in of the dark in verse three. At the close, the slower tempo, together with the gentle dissonance and long melisma on the word ‘floating’, leaves us in an atmosphere of moonlit calmness.
Clouded with snow
The bleak winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.
The rayless sun,
Day’s journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.
Walter de la Mare (1873–1956)
© Copyright 1906 by The Literary Trustees of Walter de la Mare,
used by permission of The Literary Trustees of Walter de la Mare and
the Society of Authors as their Representative
Becky was born in 1974 and grew up in Cornwall. She studied music at Royal Holloway, University of London, and after graduating, returned to Cornwall where she now leads a busy musical life as a composer, cellist, and piano and cello teacher. Becky developed a love of singing at an early age and her interest in sacred choral music grew during her time as a member of the Royal Holloway Chapel Choir. She now composes mainly choral music and draws much of her inspiration from her Christian faith. Her works, which include psalm settings, carols, and settings of other texts, biblical and secular, are written in a recognisable, engaging and personal style. Becky’s setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem In the bleak midwinter has become very widely performed following its premiere recording by Truro Cathedral Choir, broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and publication by Boosey & Hawkes. She has also written numerous songs for solo voice and works for string ensembles.