SO BLESSEDLY IT SPRUNG



Performed By: The Dale Warland Singers, Dale Warland, conductor

Instrumentation:
SATB chorus, oboe, viola, harp

Text: 12th C. Old English poetry

Duration: 8 minutes 30 seconds

Commissioned By:
The Dale Warland Singers in celebration of their 25th Anniversary Season, 1996-1997

Premiere:
December 7, 1996 by the Dale Warland Singers, Dale Warland, conductor, at Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata, MN

Available From:
Oxford University Press, distributed by C.F. Peters and Goodmusic Publishing

Composer's Notes:
I am enormously fascinated by medieval texts and the importance of metaphor to medieval writers.  To them, the contemplation of a particularly vivid metaphor had two-fold results: it was a way to view the world and it had a profoundly spiritual effect.  I am interested in that search for metaphor in our lives.  We often lack the ability to recognize it; consequently, we take literally much of what we see.
 
So Blessedly It Sprung is a setting of two twelfth-century poems. The first is a Latin verse by Adam of St. Victor, De Radice Flos Ascendit; the second, an Old English Marian carol, Of a Rose. The metaphor is that Christ is a rose sprung from the branch of Mary.  The message is of a miraculous birth in a time of darkness.  I was especially drawn to these texts because they suggest the real battle we face in our own commercially driven culture to experience Christmas as a celebration of spiritual rebirth.
 
I set the Old English text in seven verses with refrain and interspersed verses of the Latin text.  The choral parts flow in a chant-like way interrupted by ecstatic bursts, sometimes of purely instrumental color.  Originally, I thought the Adam of St. Victor portion would be a lullaby, but the poet, contemplating the metaphor of the rose and branch, finds himself in a state of ecstasy; thus, these sections became the outbursts, not a lullaby.  I hope that both singer and audience will be swept up in ecstasy of birth and the peacefulness of renewal.
 
— Libby Larsen
 
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