Arise in Beauty (An Anthem for SATB Chorus and Organ) by Dan Locklair is the result of a commission from the Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, VA, through a gift from Carolyn Weekley in memory of her mother, Catherine Minor Weekley (1920 – 2009). Its 2009 text, by poet and retired Virginia Commonwealth University Instructor, Angier Brock, was commissioned for this anthem. Arise in Beauty was completed in November 2009 and is approximately seven minutes in length.
Ms. Brock’s moving poem is lyrical throughout. Even in its beautiful originality, the poem invokes The Book of Common Prayer and biblical scripture (the latter through references to “dust” and “breath” from Genesis 2 to the final line of the poem invoking the opening of Psalm 62). Ms. Brock’s poetry is also filled with wonderful twists on traditional texts (such as in the creative and reverse naming of the Trinity in speaking of “Inventing Wind,” “Generous Christ,” and “Luminous God”). Since Angier Brock also personally knew Catherine Minor Weekley, she was able to infuse her human reflections into poetic and spiritual universals (such as in her use of the word “stuff” as it poetically refers to both the substance of Creation as well as invoking the “great stuff” nickname given to Carolyn Weekley by her father, whose life was tragically cut short in World War II).
Musically, the main melodic material of the piece is immediately heard on a solo organ color accompanied by organ strings over a recurring pedal pulse on the pitch “C.” The chorus soon enters with the first stanza of the text. As this stanza unfolds, the harmony starts to gradually change as the pulsing pedal rhythm begins to move upward by step. An organ interlude, reflective of the opening introduction, soon emerges (though now over a “C-sharp” recurring pedal pulse), and leads to a similar choral setting as found in stanza one. As the poem’s second stanza moves forward, it eventually folds into the more harmonically rich stanza three. A fast, dance-like section evolves at “Inventing Wind, what a lively dance your energy creates!” eventually bringing Arise in Beauty to its climax point. The spirit of dance soon subsides and leads to a quiet and gentle close on the words “…for you alone my soul in silence waits.”
Gladly each morning I arise in beauty,
in beauty, gladly go about the day
seeking the One who sings to me in secret,
“Come, my love, my fair one, come away.”
Gladly each evening, I lie down in wonder.
Who are we mortals, placed by infinite arts
in a blaze of beauty with the sweetest grace –
Love that seals salvation on our hearts?
All the great stuff of heaven and earth we are –
love and dust, breath and rest – counted as good
with the river, the wren, the lily, the lamb, the star.
Inventing Wind, what a lively dance your energy creates!
O Generous Christ, O Luminous God,
for you alone my soul in silence waits.