Glory and Peace (A Suite of Seven Reflections for Organ) was commissioned by the Anglican Musicians Foundation, the Los Angeles Conference Committee and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for the 2009 Conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians, Los Angeles, California for this evening’s Disney Hall World Premiere performance by organist Thomas Murray. The piece was completed during the autumn of 2008. With the theme of the 2009 AAM Conference being “Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise Thee”: Music as an iconic glimpse of Heaven from George Herbert’s, King of Glory, King of Peace, this poem served as the extra-musical stimulus for my Glory and Peace.
In seven movements, symbolism relating to the number “7” permeates all aspects of Glory and Peace, including its form, melodic development and its seventh-chord harmonic palette. The titles of each movement are taken from Mr. Herbert’s 17th century poem. Though none of the movements of this fourteen-minute suite are lengthy, Movements I, IV and VII are the longest and provide the girders of the composition. Movements II / III and V / VI are miniatures and represent dance movements that have traditionally been paired.
I. “King of Glory, King of Peace…” (Prelude) ca. 3’30”
Anchored throughout by the pitch “D” and based on a transposed seven-note “D” Mixolydian church mode, this movement contrasts the richness of a prominent solo sonority (supported with the organ’s full resources) with the serenity of soft solo colors and celeste strings. The movement’s main melody is heard seven times and, though its rhythm remains constant, with each new melodic statement its pitches are re-cycled so that it is never heard exactly the same way twice.
II. “…Seven whole days…” (Pavane) ca. 40”
III. “…I will praise thee…” (Galliard) ca. 50”
The ancient dances, “Pavane” (duple meter) and “Galliard” (triple meter), have traditionally been paired. Both of these miniatures are based on the same seven-note Phrygian church mode (E-E) and the melodic and harmonic materials of both pieces are similar. Further, each movement is made up of seven brief sections and each piece uses dialogue between varied organ sounds. The reflective“…Seven whole days…” contrasts the warm foundation stops of the organ, while the exuberant “…I will praise thee…” contrasts brighter foundation stops with mixtures and the reeds of the organ. If available, a Zymblestern is suggested to be included throughout. Near the conclusion of “…I will praise thee…”, a quote from the most famous Galliard of all, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, is briefly heard.
IV. “…I will love thee…” (Aria) ca. 4’00”
As Christ’s love is central to His ministry, so, too, is this movement central to Glory and Peace. Based on a three-note “A-B-C” motive, this movement’s primary melodic material is similar to that found in Movement I. Though here the melodic statements are more gentle and lyrical, just as in Movement I, the melodies are heard seven times throughout the movement. Unlike the constancy of a single note “D” harmony in Movement I, here fourteen different choral sonorities are explored. Though “…I will love thee…” begins and ends in a gentle and reflective way, its mid-section unfolds to a dramatic climax.
V. “…with my utmost art…” (Scherzo) ca. 1’30”
VI. “…I will sing thee…” (Trio) ca. 1’20”
It was Beethoven who, from the stately triple-meter “minuet” dance, developed the quick triple-meter “scherzo.” As with the “minuet,” a middle section called the “trio” was always paired with the initial “scherzo” and its return to end the movement. “Scherzo” means “joke.” The “joke” of this Scherzo and Trio is the fact that these two miniature movements are freestanding and, therefore, the Scherzo does not repeat. Both movements are centered on the note “B” and a transposed Aeolian church mode. The quick and playful V. “…with my utmost art…” dialogues with bright flute colors in seven-bar phrases, punctuated throughout by optional organ chime pitches. VI. “…I will sing thee…” is a true trio, containing three voices that, over ever-shifting meter changes, contains seven statements of singing melody.
VII. “…e’en eternity’s too short to extol thee.” (Finale) ca. 2’30”
Movement I’s melodic material is the basis for this joyous and exuberant movement, but it is re-cast in a highly rhythmical way. Also returning and used throughout (though often transposed) is Movement IV’s three-note “A-B-C” motive. Following a brief introduction over “F-sharp,” harmonic movement then proceeds to seven tonal areas: “D”, “a”, “F”, “B”, “G”, “D-flat” and “C.” Symbolically, with these and the introductory tonal area, “8” is now represented as this movement celebrates the progression beyond “…Seven whole days…” and into a timeless eternity.
Glory and Peace is published by Subito Music Publishing.