Duration: 9'30" |
Ensemble: SATB organ
When writing my Te Deum I had in mind a brilliant spring morning in a cathedral, with the sun streaming in through the great East window.
The jubilant start has a slightly theatrical effect with "We praise thee, O God" being sung firstly by decani, then cantoris and finally full. This effect may not be immediately discernible to the congregation in the nave of the building but it adds to the exuberant praise from the choir.
The organ part is a little demanding in places. At no time is this part subservient to the choir. It is an integral texture and I had in mind Stanfords Magnificat in G, a type of moto perpetuo, driving the meaning of the words forward. I like the sound of SSA singing "ethereally", with the texture similar to the Sanctus in Bachs B minor Mass, but there are also solo lines for each voice part as well as a cappella sections, allowing the beauty of a good choir to shine.
Occasionally the organ supports the choir but there is a great deal of independence between the forces. There are sections of quiet contemplation and reflection, almost quasi-plainsong in places. There are equally powerful, thunderous sections, opportunities for fanfares on the organ's reeds, the occasional chromatic chord by way of word-painting and some enharmonic changes to add colour and interest. The overarching purpose of the piece is to stir the congregation, providing the choir and the organist with numerous opportunities to convey the meaning of the text taken from the ancient Latin Christian hymn of 387AD. Having mentioned the cathedral, the piece is also well within the capabilities of a good parish choir and organist and the opening dec/can split can, of course, be ignored and sung full.
May your choir and organist enjoy performing this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.