Preces and Responses - Ray Cook

Duration: 4'00"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Medium
CMP277 Full score £2.50

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This set of Preces and Responses has grown out of my love of vocal harmony, the spaces in which music to God is glorified and the way the meaning of the words can be reflected in the music. Having sung various settings in all styles in so many cathedrals, often taking the cantor's part, I find this vehicle for conveying such an extreme of emotions both uplifting and exciting. One cathedral choir conductor said that it was the only part of the service where the director of music has a virtually free rein and is able to express the responses in a way personal to him.

The textual extremes – from "And take not thy holy spirit from us" through the emotions of the Lord's Prayer to "make thy chosen people joyful" and the great acclamation "The Lord's name be praised" must be sung to reflect these emotions. How often do we see a choir singing "people joyful" yet looking miserable! The music and the choir must guide the congregation through these texts, inspire them and, hopefully, send them on their way with spirits renewed.

My setting is relatively straightforward harmonically, occasionally doubling the parts to add depth and meaning. I have heard them performed in a large building, ringing around the vaulting but they could be equally at home in a parish church.

Prior to publication they have been performed a number of times by the RSCM Voices South (for whom they were written) and West Choirs at Rochester Cathedral on a number of occasions, Romsey Abbey and Cirencester Parish Church.

I do hope you and your congregation enjoy this set.