work details

At A Solemn Music

a festival anthem for mixed chorus, organ, and chimes

  • Instrumentation: SATB (divisi), organ, and chimes
  • Completed: July 2008
  • Duration: 10 minutes
  • Texts: John Milton (1608-1674) "At A Solemn Music"
  • Audio:
  • Score Preview:
  • Published:

    DD3 Publications, Distributed by Graphite Publishing

  • Commission and Dedication:

    For Holland Jancaitis and the Cornell Chorale.

    Originally completed July 2008, revised July 2010

  • Program Note:

    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.

  • Performances:
    • April 24, 2009 (Premiere)
      The Cornell Chorale
      William Cowdery, organ 
      Holland Jancaitis, conductor
      Cornell University - Sage Chapel - Ithaca, NY
    • November 2, 2014
      Chorus pro Musica
      Jamie Kirsch, music director & conductor
      Old South Church - Boston, MA 
    • May 29, 2020
      Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale
      Ryan J. Tibbetts, conductor
      Grace Baptist Church - Richmond, VA
    • May 31, 2020
      Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale
      Ryan J. Tibbetts, conductor
      Grace Baptist Church - Richmond, VA
  • Text:

    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
    Singing everlastingly;
    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.