Searching for Simon Mold - 2 results.
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.
I wrote this set of Preces and Responses in 1993, when sets with organ accompaniment were uncommon. My aim was to provide something which, with just two vocal lines and with several vocal combinations possible, was straightforward to learn and easily adaptable to local and amateur circumstances whilst being sufficiently different from other commonly-used sets to appeal to cathedral choirs as well, which has happily proved to be the case.
The musical style is restrained and monastic, drawing inspiration from unobtrusively accompanied plainsong and some of the more lyrical accompanied recitatives in Handels oratorios and operas, for instance Thy rebuke (Messiah) or Chi vide mai (Tamerlano). The vocal lines intertwine gently, often in canon, and the organ provides a sustained background with occasional phrases imitating the voices. The Preces and the Lesser Litany are conceived as single complete movements, rather than a series of discrete versicles and responses.
Men's voices are used in the illustrative recording but, as remarked above, other vocal combinations are allowed for and encouraged (see footnote at the bottom of page 1 of the score).