The first and last of these love songs based on poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are especially related to the courtship and marriage of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. The middle song is a setting of three of the five stanzas of a poem entitled “A Woman’s Shortcomings.” In “How Do I Love Thee?” the dominant interval is the augmented fourth that occurs in some form each time the words, “I love thee,” are sung. The motif of “let me count the ways” is heard from time to time and returns strongly at the end with the phrase, “better after death.” The melodic line seeks to “paint” the words of each phrase. The waltz was the most popular dance of the 19th century. It seemed fitting to select that form for the second poem, a portion of which hints at a dance scene. The contrast of “Life” and “Love” in the final poem is brought out through a descending line in a somber mode picturing the cold stillness of “Life” and an ascending line in a bright mode picturing the warmth and joy of “Love.”
How Do I Love Thee (excerpt)
Never Call It Loving (excerpt)
Life and Love (excerpt)
Luke tells of the prophet Anna and her contact with the baby Jesus in the Temple.
”The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband died. And now she was eighty-four years old. Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating.
At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.”
Luke 2:36-38 (Contemporary English Version-CEV)
We are only told that she “spoke of the child Jesus.” I decided to develop a song that would tell about her and what her “speaking” might have been. Thus I researched the Psalms for praise especially related to worship in the Temple. I also looked for Psalms of lament that could represent her sorrow in the loss of her husband.
The song opens with a call for everyone to shout praises to God. The first recitative-like section allows Anna to introduce herself and share about her sorrow. A song of lament follows which leads back to a declaration of confidence in God and a desire to praise Him in His Temple.
The second recitative-like section is presented as the words of Anna as she speaks of being old and spending her days in the Temple praying and fasting. However, God has granted her a great blessing. In a cry of joy she declares, “I have seen the promised Messiah.”
This third collection also contains songs in traditional, contemporary Christian, and gospel styles. Indices included, in addition to the Table of Contents, are alphabetical, topical and Scriptural. There is also a page showing the range of each of the songs.
This poem invokes the sun to linger awhile longer before the world must face the cold and dark of winter. The composer chose a four-note motif as the basis of setting this poem to music. The opening words of the poem use this motif as do several other lines. The four notes even appear at the beginning and the end of the piece in widely separated ranges. As the poet muses on the “few sunny days,” the music becomes less somber and with a happier tone. Yet winter is truly coming and cannot be long delayed so the dark and gloomy mood returns.
This poem of Anne Boleyn was obviously written in the Tower of London as she awaited her eventual execution. In this work the soprano is Anne Boleyn; the violin, Death. The melodies and harmonies are modal, starting with Dorian and moving through the darker modes until the final stanza is in Locrian. Death as portrayed by the violin is at times sensuous; other times, menacing. Anne’s moods range from a defiant declaration of her innocence to a joyous thought of past pleasures to a gradual acceptance of the coming of death.
The three-note theme which the voice announces, “Sing, O sing,” is the basis for most of the “Praise” section. Also featured is the Hebrew word, “Teruah,” a shout of joy, used in much the same way as the more familiar “Hallelujah.” The final shorter “Hope” section is based on a Hebrew chant used with Psalms. The harmonies are mostly quartal. Only at the end with the last repeating of “our hope in Thee,” do we hear a resolution to a final major chord with a soft high sounding of the original three-note motif.
This work in its entirety is intended for a concert or recital program. However, certain sections can be excerpted for use in a church service. Listed below are inclusive measure numbers for these sections. Also indicated are suggested uses in the service.
Praise Solo: Measures 10-80 (for an ending repeat measures 69 and 70)
Meditative Solo: Measures 83-126.
Call to Prayer: Measures 231-246 (first half of the measure)
Benediction: Measures 246-end
The first song entitled, O See this Miracle of God, is a paraphrase of Luke 1:46-55 known from the Latin as the Magnificat with additional words by the composer. The second song, entitled, Carmen deo nostro, is based on the poetry of Richard Crashaw (about 1610-1650).
O See This Miracle of God (excerpt)
Carmen Deo Nostro (excerpt)
This new collection also contains songs in traditional, contemporary Christian, and gospel styles. Indices included, in addition to the Table of Contents, are alphabetical, topical and Scriptural. There is also a page showing the range of each of the songs.