At A Solemn Music
a festival anthem for mixed chorus, organ, and chimes
For Holland Jancaitis and the Cornell Chorale.
Originally completed July 2008, revised July 2010
At A Solemn Music was commissioned by Holland Jancaitis and the Cornell Chorale. The work sets John Milton's text of the same name for chorus, organ, and chimes. Conceived as a festival anthem, the work portrays Milton's text in all of its jubilant fervor. I was particularly drawn to this poem because of its use of illustrative and colorful musical terminology. The writing for singers and players is demanding, yet always evocative of the particular image Milton is conjuring. The work sounds at times like Handel, at others like Vierne, and it concludes with a satisfying and triumphant original hymn tune.
Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heav'n's joy,
Sphere-born harmonious Sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine sounds, and mixt power employ
Dead things with inbreath'd sense able to pierce,
And to our high-rais'd fantasy present
That undisturbed Song of pure concent,
Ay sung before that saphire-colour'd throne
To Him that sits thereon
With Saintly shout and solemn Jubilee,
Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud up-lifted Angel trumpets blow,
And the Cherubic host in thousand choirs
Touch their immortal Harps of golden wires,
With those just Spirits that wear victorious Palms,
Hymns devout and holy Psalms
That we on Earth with undiscording voice
May rightly answer that melodious noise;
As once we did, till disproportion'd sin
Jarr'd against Nature's chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair music that all creatures made
To their great Lord, whose love their motion sway'd
In first obedience, and their state of good.
And keep in tune with Heav'n, till God ere long
To His celestial consort us unite,
To live with Him, and sing in endless morn of light.