For the beauty of earth and sky and sea - Ray Cook

Duration: 3'30"
Ensemble: SATB organ
Grading: Medium
CMP296 Full score £3.00

Click to enlarge

For the beauty of earth and sky and sea is an anthem written for harvest, using words from the Book of Common Prayer. It reflects the joy of a successful harvest as well as the overriding gratitude to God for his bounteous gifts, the beauty of earth, sea, sky and the flora and fauna.

It is written for SATB with only about six bars when the soprano part splits. The organ has a pervading Lombardic – Scottish snap - rhythm and is modal, predominantly mixolydian, with occasional chromaticisms. The accompaniment drives the music, which is marked con brio. It must be sung joyfully and enthusiastically, imagining a country church. At the same time it could be equally at home in the beauties of a cathedral.

There are a cappella passages, taking us back to quasi 16th century counterpoint with imitative entries - “Grant that we may continue” and the amens but, for the most part, it is substantially homophonic.

It is a piece that hopefully choirs will enjoy. There are extremes of dynamics and many opportunities for the conductor to put his or her personal stamp on the performance through speed changes and that all-important element in music: silence, an example being after the pause before the start of the amen.

It is a fun piece for organists. Sometimes the part doubles the singers, quietly supporting, other times independent, demonstrative and exciting.

I do hope choirs and organists enjoy performing this anthem and that congregations have their understanding of the season enhanced, leaving the service suitably uplifted.