Duration: 3'45" |
Ensemble: SATB organ
In 2018 John Varney asked me to write a carol for the Guildford Areas U3A Choirs, with the request that it might also be suitable for general use. It was thus a challenge to find some suitable words, as most carols are put firmly to bed once the festivities are over; but I happened upon this pseudo-medieval text by George R Woodward which seemed to fit the bill. Jesus, Mary and "my guiding angel star" (although not Joseph, for some reason) are imagined as sailing "a brave ship and a fine" towards the Heavenly Kingdom, with the poet as passenger.
I decided, in the music, to imitate a traditional galley's oarstrokes by using a constant, steady beat in compound time, accompanied throughout by ascending and descending organ scales to suggest the sea. The persistent use of the flattened 7th glances at the medieval theme; and the return of the opening music poco a poco diminuendo, in canon, at the very end is intended to suggest the galley sailing off out of sight over the horizon.