A Triumph Song is a hymn of thanksgiving and rejoicing for Ascensiontide and general use. Verse 1 in unison, unaccompanied harmony for verse 2, and unison plus descant for the final verse.
Love came down at Christmas (1992), unlike A Triumph Song, is a setting of a very well-known text. The music of verse 1 is repeated, varied, in verse 3; verse 2, which begins in the tonic minor key, is partly for unaccompanied voices.
Love’s redeeming work, an anthem for Eastertide and general use, is largely based on the modal melody of verse 1. This melody is mainly Dorian, but ends with a more ambiguous pattern of interlocking thirds (G E flat F D) that is later given contrapuntal treatment. Read more
Chorale, for organ, is a miniature suitable for performance before or during the distribution of Holy Communion. After an introduction, the first three phrases of its simple chorale- or hymn-like melody are soloed; the fourth phrase is more densely harmonised with parallel chords over a low pedal note.
Let my prayer rise before you, a responsory for Evening Prayer, has for several years formed part of the Advent Liturgy at St Boniface, Chandler’s Ford. The unison refrain ‘Let my prayer’ is sung three times, a tone higher each time as the prayer rises; the verses are for solo male cantor.
Evening Voluntary has various comfortable English echoes and associations, but there are ambiguities and uncertainties, as in the middle section where a serene C major is soon compromised.
O sacrum convivium, composed in the 1970s, is a short Communion motet (or introit) for unaccompanied voices in simple chordal style. The opening and closing sections in B flat major are separated by a passage of strong tonal contrast, with a climactic soprano F sharp as the worshippers look forward to ‘future glory’.
Ave, verum corpus, a longer motet, also for Communion, follows the same structural scheme as Elgar’s setting. After an enigmatic organ introduction (minor key, although the overall tonality is major) a section for women’s voices with organ is repeated in harmony. This is followed by a second section similarly repeated. The coda (‘O clemens, O pie…’) is chiefly for solo voices. Dissonance underlines references to pain and suffering, notably at ‘Vere passum…’, a reference to Christ’s Passion, with parallel sevenths in the organ.
Mysterium fidei: the title of this meditative organ voluntary was suggested by the ‘mystery of faith’ proclaimed in the Eucharist.
Behold the Lamb of God is a unison hymn composed in 1984. It is suitable also for use as a simple anthem at the Eucharist, especially in Passiontide. The melody is largely pentatonic (with the notes D E F sharp A B) but G is strongly asserted for contrast in the middle.
Melody with variations for organ is modelled in structure on ‘Complainte’, no. 3 of Vierne’s 24 Pièces en Style Libre. A self-contained melody is repeated with variations of texture and harmony, and then inverted; there are some prominent pedal points. The quiet conclusion is intended to lead into a short period of silence before the choir enters at the start of a service.
Blest are the pure in heart is similar in structure to Ave verum corpus but more straightforward in style. It is suitable as a short anthem or introit, either at the Eucharist or Evensong.
The Lord’s Prayer (2005), for unison voices, uses the modern text beginning ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’. It may be accompanied by piano instead of organ.
Much of Allegro scherzando is based on the three-note motif heard twice at the start (falling, then rising). Two pitches a semitone apart are embedded in the dissonant chordal textures a little further on: they form the basis of the brief lyrical interludes that immediately follow.
Divinum mysterium is named after a melody familiar from many hymn books (for the hymn ‘Of the Father’s love’) and originally from Piae Cantiones of 1582. The opening solo and the following verses hint at this melody; it is more clearly foreshadowed in the organ part, and then is sung in full towards the end. The final C sharp major chord suggests something of the divine mystery, especially as the principal keys are G major and E major. This anthem was composed with Christmas in mind, but is suitable for other occasions including Epiphany and feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
(Hugh Benham, 2011)