I sing of a maiden (2016)
fp. King’s College Chapel Choir, David Smith, St Machar’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, 07 December 2016
I sing of a maiden, is a simple setting of the beautiful medieval lyric poem on the Annunciation. The text has been set by some of the leading twentieth and twenty-first century composers, and with the simplicity and stillness of the poem it is easy to understand why. My setting takes the serenity of the text and works it through the different sections. The work is in an ABBBA form with the opening alto solo returning in two guises at the end: firstly in a jubilant full choir harmonisation, then an unaccompanied reprise of the opening.
There is an emotional duality in the text of I sing of a maiden that I tried to capture in my setting: on the one hand there is rapture of the Annunciation and all that entails, but there is also the delicacy and introversion of the Virgin Mary at this critical moment. I wanted to capture some of this introversion and at the same time pay homage to great carols of the early twentieth century that do the same – Peter Warlock’s Bethlehem Down and Herbert Howells’s A Spotless Rose – I hope in some part to have done this.