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Sample Pagesfor mixed choir (SATB div) a cappella
Text: English (William Blake)
Duration: 4'00''
Difficulty: 3/5
Use: Christmas

Composer's note
I was introduced to William Blake’s poem The Lamb many years ago through John Tavener’s famous setting and, when commissioned by York Minster to write a carol for their 2019 nine lessons and carols services, the idea of writing my own setting of this beautiful poem was hard to resist. For me, the biblical symbol of the lamb represents one of the most profound theological mysteries. That divine omnipotence as represented by the symbolic lamb speaks volumes of the humility and self-sacrificing nature of God; complexity illustrated in simplicity. The poet has seen within the vulnerability of the lamb, the profundity of God’s self-sacrifice.

I looked to convey the innocence of the lamb through the gentle opening of the piece with its simple melody and harmony. The harmonies gradually intensify as the questions of the text continue, and there is a stronger feel to the second verse as those questions begin to be answered and it is revealed that the Creator God is Himself the Lamb. A feeling of space should prevail, without the tempo dragging. The commas in bars 29, 33, 46, 51 and 52 imply there should be room to breathe, but not a whole quaver’s worth of breath if possible.

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee;
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For He calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee,
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake (1757–1827)

Becky McGlade
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.

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