St. Peter’s Rock

ST. PETER’S ROCK (An Anthem for SATB Chorus and Organ, with optional Trumpet in C) was commissioned by The St. Peter’s Choir (Ben Outen, Organist and Choirmaster) of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Charlotte, North Carolina. The commission was a gift from The Choir to the congregation of St. Peter’s Church in honor of the autumn 1999 dedication of St. Peter’s new Parish House. ST. PETER’S ROCK also pays tribute to the memory of my uncle, Wriston Hale Locklair (1925-1984). Director of Public Relations and Assistant to the President at The Juilliard School in New York City at the time of his sudden death, Wriston’s distinguished work as a music critic included contributions to The Charlotte Observer, Musical America, Opera News and The New York Herald Tribune.

In order to involve The St. Peter’s Choir more deeply in the commissioning process, I invited members to submit anthem text suggestions to me. Many excellent ones were submitted, but I was especially attracted to a series of brief texts from both the Old and New Testaments suggested by Mr. Sam Gardner. (The complete text is printed below.) Matthew 16:18, which I have set in Latin (“Tu es Petrus…”), serves as an antiphon throughout the piece. After an instrumental introduction, the Antiphon is set in an expansive manner with the simple chant-like vocal lines being supported by an organ chaconne. [N.B. A “chaconne” is a ground bass technique consisting of a recurring harmonic progression.] The chaconne seeks to represent the solidarity of The Church (i.e. “Rock”) on which St. Peter set Christ’s church. A slow a cappella section (with trumpet solo), using the Genesis 28:17 text (in English) appears at the piece’s mid-section. Flanking this a cappella section are two fast and rhythmical sections based on New Testament (Matthew 7:24-25) and Old Testament (Psalm 122:1) texts (both also set in English) that exuberantly celebrate “the house of the Lord!”. The basis for all the musical material of ST. PETER’S ROCK is a 19th century hymn tune entitled St. Peter by English-born composer, Alexander R. Reinagle (1799-1877) and named for the London church in which Mr. Reinagle served as organist: St. Peter in the East. Associated with two different hymn texts in most 20th century hymns (i.e. John Oxenham’s In Christ There is No East or West and John Newton’s How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds), the tune St. Peter is heard most clearly during the final section of ST. PETER’S ROCK in the optional trumpet part.

Dan Locklair
July 1999
Winston-Salem, NC
Duration : ca. 7 minutes

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Text for ST. PETER’S ROCK

Antiphon:

Tu es Petrus
et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam
et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam.
(“You are Peter
and upon this rock I will build my church;
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”) [Matthew 16:18, EVANGELIA IV]
{Translation by Robert Ulery and used with his kind permission.}

“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them
will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;” [Matthew 7:24-25, RSV]

(Antiphon)

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house
of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” [Genesis:28:17, RSV]

(Antiphon)

“I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ ” [Psalm 122:1, RSV]