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L'Envoy: King of Glory, King of Peace

Composer Alfred V. Fedak
Text George Herbert
SATB and organ
Church Season
Lent, Ash Wednesday Topics Penitence
2' 05" Price $1.95 (U.S.)  Released 3/93
Catalog no. 418-611  Difficulty Moderately difficult

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"This setting of a George Herbert poem is charged with energy and emotion. The music expresses the text well and evokes a sense of spirituality. The moderately difficult writing utilizes a variety of mixed meters and key centers. The choral parts, which lie in comfortable ranges, require three-part divisi in the treble voices. The ending is beautiful and serene; an optional ending is given for smaller choirs that cannot manage the divisi. The organ accompaniment needs good string and flute stops; a soft 32' pedal will make the perfect ending." ­Choral Journal, April '94

"[L'Envoy] is not too difficult, although it would take great rhythmic control to give the piece the somber, forceful attitude it needs. Fedak provides an alternative ending for smaller choirs; this should be used unless you have enough sectional presence to stagger breathing through a sustained piano ending." ­Pastoral Music, August-September, 1994

"L'Envoy: King of Glory, King of Peace is choir music rather than congregational music. While it is not too difficult (the organ part is independent of the voices), it is very dramatic." ­Modern Liturgy, May 1994.

"Alfred Fedak used the other 'King of glory' text (L'Envoy at the conclusion of "The Church Militant"). A restless organ introduction sets the mood for the brooding e-minor theme of the first half of the text; a strange modulation jolts us into the drama of a fortissimo g-minor middle section, which gradually subsides to the blessing of the concluding pianissimo E-major. Fedak writes well, achieving lush effects while preserving both integrity and interest for each voice part. An optional ending is provided to avoid 8-part divisi, and I like its simplicity better. Check this one out; the text has many seasonal implications and uses." ­AAM Journal, Dec. 1994

Description A rich setting of George Herbert's less familiar version of "King of glory, King of peace." This is a hymn charged with emotion, and the music is truly expressive of the text.

From the composer
King of glory, King of Peace,
with the one make wars to cease,
with the other bless thy sheep,
thee to love, in thee to sleep.

The poem is addressed to Jesus, and opens with a petition. But already there is a paradox: one would expect Christ the King of Peace to put an end to warfare. But in these lines, the King of Peace is asked to bless his people--it it Christ the King of Glory who grants peace. The implication here is that when humanity is finally confronted by Christ in all his glory, earthly conflicts will cease.

Let not sin devour thy fold,
bragging that thy blood is cold,
that thy death is also dead,
while his conquests daily spread,
that thy flesh hath lost his food,
and thy Cross is common wood.

Here the words take a darker turn. Sin is personified in this prayer for protection from the deceptions of disbelief and from its evil source. The following heresies are enumerated: a disbelief in the resurrection of Jesus, the futility of Christ's sacrifice in light of evil's apparent hold over the world, the meaninglessness of the Eucharist, and rejection of all that is holy and worthy of veneration.

Choke him, let him say no more,
but reserve his breath in store,
till thy conquests and his fall
make his sighs to use it all,
and then bargain with the wind
to discharge what is behind.

The prayer continues with violent imagery. Destroy sin (Satan), but do not kill him outright. Instead, silence his voice and disable him so that he witnesses your victory. And when he dies in the despair of his defeat, leave his remains for the wind to scatter.

In celebration of Christ's ultimate victory over evil, the poem concludes with this Trinitarian doxology:

Blessed by God alone,
thrice blessed Three in One.


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