The Heavens are Telling

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Three spiritual madrigals for choir (SSATB) with optional continuo

from I. When I Gaze at the Heavens

One of Bach’s most gifted predecessors at St. Thomas’ Church in Leipzig, Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630), was a master at blending the liturgical and secular musical styles of his time. In his Israelis Brünnlein Johann Hermann Schein combines the polyphonic style of sixteenth-century church
music with the art of the Italian madrigal.

The music is not meant for the liturgy, but belongs to the genre of the sacred or spiritual madrigal. Most of its texts are derived from the Old Testament, especially the Book of Psalms, and the Revelation of St John the Divine.

from II. The Word Overflows

The Heavens are Telling has been devised as a companion piece for Israelis Brünnlein. It sets fragments from three of the Psalms described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as the ‘creation psalms’ (Psalms 8, 18 and 28). Like its 17C companion these new madrigals are scored for five voices with optional continuo and display, in a 21C guise, many of the traits and devices of the early 17C Italian madrigal. A new rendering of the Psalm texts In English by Margaret Morgan allows for the play and juxtaposition of individual words and phrases so beloved by the madrigalist composers. The texts are also sympathetic to the concept of madrigalism (
Madrigalismus) used to describe music’s attempt to ‘humanize, animate and permanently relate the ‘I’ of the composer to the ‘thou’ of the listener through all manner of means from pictures of movement to the symbolism of numbers’.

from III. Give Glory to the Name of God

This new collection has been prepared for the Yorkshire-based choir Cantorelli, a small chamber choir of between seven and nine solo singers who have long associations with John Potter (Hilliard Ensemble) and Anna Friman (Trio Medieval).

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The Heavens are Telling study score [pdf]