SATB chorus, oboe, viola, harp
Commissioned by the Dale Warland Singers in celebration of their 25th Anniversary Season, 1996-1997
Premiered by The Dale Warland Singers, Dale Warland conductor, at Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata, Minnesota on December 7, 1996
Oxford University Press. Vocal Score distributed by Goodmusic Publishing, full score and parts distributed by C.F. Peters.
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.
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To order the full version, please visit C.F. Peters.