The Mystery of God (Anthem for SATB Chorus, a cappella) was completed during the summer of 2016 and is dedicated to the British conductor, composer and organist, Malcolm Archer. The choral work and the poem on which it is based share the same title. The poem, written in 1876, is by the American Unitarian minister, Frederick Lucian Hosmer (1840-1929). One of his earliest poems, many of Dr. Hosmer’s compositions first appeared in The Thought of God in Hymns and Poems, a publication dating from 1885. Born in Massachusetts, Rev. Hosmer was a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Divinity School. He later went on to serve Unitarian congregations in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and California. Of The Mystery of God, English hymnologist Percy Dearmer has said: “…this flawless poem, one of the completest expressions of religious faith.”
My anthem The Mystery of God seeks to capture the serenity of Rev. Hosmer’s words. Only in the final verse of the final stanza at “An open path to Thee” does the piece reach a full-spirited climax point. However, it quickly reasserts those words in gentler fashion, bringing the anthem to a serene close.
-Duration = ca. 2’ 30”-
The Mystery of God
O THOU, in all thy might so far,
In all thy love so near,
Beyond the range of sun and star,
And yet beside us here,—
What heart can comprehend thy name,
Or searching, find thee out,
Who art within a quickening Flame,
A Presence round about?
Yet though I know thee but in part,
I ask not, Lord, for more:
Enough for me to know thou art,
To love thee and adore.
O sweeter than aught else besides,
The tender mystery
That like a veil of shadow hides
The Light I may not see!
And dearer than all things I know
Is childlike faith to me,
That makes the darkest way I go
An open path to thee.
Fredick Lucian Hosmer (1876)