Duration: 7'00" |
Ensemble: SATB organ
The Benedictus was written with two purposes in mind. Firstly, it could form part of an overall choral matins - I have already written a Te Deum and a Jubilate, also published by Chichester Music Press - or it could equally be performed as a stand-alone anthem. As part of the choral matins it is matched, both tonally and stylistically, with the Te Deum and the Jubilate.
It is a joyous, celebratory work reflecting the words "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel". The theme used for this permeates throughout the entire piece, with references made, either in full or in part, sometimes by the choir and other times on the organ. The idea of this opening phrase, textually and thematically, is never far from earshot.
Much is made of the soprano/treble and alto sections of the choir, sometimes doubled and a cappella, also contrasting with the tenor and bass, whose parts are also doubled on occasion. There are imitative entries which give a contrapuntal contrast to the largely homophonic texture. For the most part the organ, when used, virtually doubles the choir but there are occasions when it intentionally does its own thing. Because of this a slightly less-experienced choir would gain a considerable amount of confidence from sensitive support.
The darker words are, naturally, reflected in the choice of harmonies together with the voicing but the positive, jubilant feeling of the opening phrase still shines through, winning in the end with a triumphant, exciting and enjoyable, Gloria, thus raising the spirits of any congregation on a cold, wet Sunday morning.