for mixed choir (SATB div) a cappella
Text: English (Ann Griffiths, trans Rowan Williams)
Use: General, Holy Week/Easter
This anthem is one of ten commissioned by the Vasari Singers to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their founding. Its first public performance was in 2005 at a concert in St John’s, Smith Square, London, and has since been recorded by the Singers on the Signum label. Ann Griffiths was an 18th Century Welsh poet, who wrote only in her mother tongue; the translation is by Rowan Williams. The words express the poet’s love of Christ, passionate in their intensity, and the music tries to reflect this. The opening and closing sections should be sung with the same sense of longing, with a final cadence that reflects the peace and tranquillity of the last few lines of the poem. The middle section needs great rhythmic precision and a sense of direction.
Under the dark trees, there he stands,
there he stands; shall he not draw my eyes?
I thought I knew a little
how he compels, beyond all things, but now
he stands there in the shadows. It will be
Oh, such a daybreak, such bright morning,
when I shall wake to see him
as he is.
He is called Rose of Sharon, for his skin
is clear, his skin is flushed with blood,
his body lovely and exact; how he compels
beyond ten thousand rivals. There he stands,
my friend, the friend of guilt and helplessness,
to steer my hollow body
over the sea.
The earth is full of masks and fetishes,
what is there here for me? are these like him?
Keep company with him and you will know:
no kin, no likeness to those empty eyes.
He is a stranger to them all, great Jesus.
What is there here for me? I know
what I have longed for. Him to hold
© Rowan Williams
from the Welsh of Ann Griffiths
Philip Moore has held posts at Eton College, Canterbury and Guildford Cathedrals, and York Minster. Although much of his music is for choirs and organs, he has also written song cycles and chamber, piano and orchestral music. His pieces are sung in cathedrals, churches and concert halls throughout the world, and he is frequently featured on BBC broadcasts of Choral Evensong. One of his recent compositions, At the round earth’s imagined corners, a choral setting of a religious sonnet by John Donne, had its US premiere in Chicago in May 2014 with the St Charles Singers. The work has just been recorded by the Choir of Winchester Cathedral, with the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, conducted by Andrew Lumsden. Moore has received a variety of honours and awards, the most recent being an honorary doctorate from the University of York. In 2014 he won second prize in a competition promoted by St Thomas, Fifth Avenue, New York, for a set of evening canticles for treble voices and organ. In addition he was the prize winner in a competition for a Christmas anthem, organised by St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. He is organist emeritus of York Minster and will serve as president of the Royal College of Organists from 2015.