for mixed choir (SATB div) a cappella
Text: English (Anon, 15th century)
These well-known words seem endlessly fruitful for the composer and conjure up such lovely images which strike each of us in our own way. For me it was the beauty of the language with its flower imagery which made me want to set the words with richly warm harmony and to temper that with gently imitative refrains. The important element in approaching the performance of this carol is the blend and balance of voices. With divisi writing and characteristically colourful harmonies, it is important that each note in the texture is given equal weight. It is also desirable that the tempo should be flexible and that phrase ends should be given a little time, especially at those moments marked either with a comma or tenuto. The final section starting with the upper voices should be ethereal and when the tenors and basses join they should do so gently to balance the upper parts. The bulk of the carol should be conducted in a minim beat, as indicated by the 2/2 time signature. Subdivisions should only be necessary at rallentandos. The piece should flow freely. 3/4 bars can be conducted in one to continue to encourage the carol’s flow.
Recommended recording: Come out, Lazar – The shorter choral works of Paul Spicer (Regent REGCD280) by The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, directed by Sarah MacDonald.
There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu:
For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space:
Res miranda [It is a miracle].
By that rose we may well see
There be one God in persons three:
Pares forma [Equal in form].
Then leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth:
Transeamus [Let us go].
Paul Spicer is one of the UK’s most widely respected choral conductors. He studied at the Royal College of Music where he was a composition student of Herbert Howells. As director of the Finzi Singers, he made many recordings on the Chandos label focusing on his specialist area of 20th century British music, and he currently conducts the Birmingham Bach Choir and the Whitehall Choir in London. He teaches choral conducting at Oxford and Durham Universities, and at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he also directs the Chamber Choir which has an increasing reputation through its regular recordings. Paul’s choral workshops take him all over the world and his English Choral Experience foundation runs choral courses in the UK and Europe. He has written biographies of Herbert Howells and Sir George Dyson and his compositional output includes the large-scale Easter Oratorio and Advent Oratorio, a choral symphony Unfinished Remembering, and The Deciduous Cross, a five movement work for choir and wind instruments, as well as many smaller-scale works.