At the end of 2019 the marvellous Vocal Ensemble of Godolphin School (conductor Olivia Sparkhall) invited me to contribute to a series of musical settings from Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Julian of Norwich which they have commissioned with support from Andrew and Louise Stewart. They chose me a few sentences by Dame Julian, and in about February 2020 my new anthem We Sekyn Here Rest was good and ready to perform.
Well, you know the rest. The scores were still sitting there until very recently when the students finally returned to school this term. I’d given up hope of hearing it, when news came of a YouTube recording about to be made – just in time before a section of the choir would be graduating. Invited to contribute a phone-recorded intro, I in fact rushed onto a Salisbury train to be at this long awaited event.
Particularly interesting was that the singers had managed to consult a Middle English expert and learn to use what is thought to be the pronunciation of the time. The sound – to me – was really surprising. It reminded me just a little of hearing people talk in Lincolnshire or the adjacent bit of Yorkshire, and seemed to possess a springy, wiry energy. The default musical idea of the Middle Ages is anciently slow, but the determination of this early woman writer must have been considerable, and I love the animation that the Godolphin singers give to her words in this world premiere recording.
Pictured, Walking Madonna, outside Salisbury Cathedral. “A rare piece by Elizabeth Frink, in that it depicts a woman”.