Blog: Music for the Feast of All Souls

Our Director of Music Jonathan Goodchild writes in this month’s Choral Evensong Blog about the music which the choir will sing for our Choral Eucharist for the Feast of All Souls on Sunday 3rd November at 6.30pm

This year for the All Souls Eucharist the choir will, as last year, be singing movements from the Vaughan Williams operas The Pilgrims’ Progress and The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains, adapted by Kathy Goodchild for our use. Some of you will remember the talk by Andrew Green in which he set out his conviction that (though not stated publicly by the composer) the music is a memorial to those who died in the Great War.

Excerpts from these operas have been arranged into four movements of Requiem music for choir, organ and viola (to be played by choir member and webmistress Kate Ford).

We hope that in this year, the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, (the most important of the treaties which brought World War 1 to an end) this music will bring comfort and solace to the bereaved just as it did after the Great War.

The Introit and motet after the commemoration of the departed are from ‘Watchful’s Song’ of The Pilgrim’s Progress, including words from Psalms 31, 127 and 121 and Isaiah 11 and 14.

            Into thy hands O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Except the Lord keep the house, the watchman waketh in vain. The Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep peace: the whole earth is at rest and is quiet.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from when cometh my help. My help cometh even from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved. He that keepeth thee shall not sleep. Behold he that keepeth thee shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord himself is thy keeper, he shall preserve thee from all evil: yea it is even he that shall keep thy soul from this time forth for evermore

The Gradual is from The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains, and sets words from Psalm 91:

Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers. He shall give his angels charge over thee, that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.

To this the Requiem words have been added:

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis   (Give them eternal rest O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them)

The anthem, taken from The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains sets words from Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his Name’s sake. Yea though I walk thro’ the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Jonathan Goodchild

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