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Awake, mute heart

Yesterday morning in the cathedral, the big, older man on my right and the beautiful younger woman on my left almost simultaneously turned to me and whispered what I had been feeling, "That is so beautiful."

We were listening to the choir sing Awake, mute heart by Orlando Gibbons.

Gibbons was born in Oxford in 1583. He sang in the Choir of King's College Cambridge, was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Music, became a renowned keyboard artist and a gentleman of the Chapel Royal. He wrote polyphonic psalms and verse anthems, fantasias for viols, partsongs (the famous Silver Swan), madrigals and consort music. He was sensitive to the joy, grief or wit of the words he set to music. He died too young at the age of 41.

Gibbons was the favorite composer of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who wrote, "Ever since my teen-age years his music has moved me more deeply than any other sound experience I can think of" (WIKI).

I couldn't find Awake, mute heart for you on YouTube, but I made another discovery.

Apparently singers come from all over the UK and beyond to participate in liturgical music workshops and rehearsals. Most of them have never sung with each other before, but they practice together and within days or hours they are singing in a cathedral worship service. Here they are singing the Choral Evensong at Wells Cathedral on the first day of their course - shimmering streams of music. It's the Nunc Dimittis by Orlando Gibbons -

In 2009 Liturgical Music will be rehearsing and singing at Exeter and Wells Cathedrals and at Malvern Abbey Priory. Richard Smith is the director.

This is one of the inspiring things that goes on behind the dreary headlines - the hidden things awakening mute hearts.

I wish I could bring you more of those things today, but I have an appointment to start laying out the book Sharing the Inheritance this afternoon. See you tomorrow.

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