Austin C. Lovelace

Composer Austin C. Lovelace
Text George Herbert
Voicing SATB, a cappella
Topics Comfort
Price $1.50 (U.S.)
Length 1' 50" Released 3/93
Catalog no. 418-612
Difficulty Mod. difficult

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A colorful (and challenging) motet using one of George Herbert's most clever hymns.

I bless thee, Lord, because I GROW
among thy trees in a ROW
To thee both fruit and order OWE.

What open force, or hidden CHARM
Can blast my fruit, or bring me HARM,
while the enclosure is thine ARM?

Enclose me still for fear I START
to me rather sharp and TART,
Than let me want thy hand and ART.

When thou dost greater judgments SPARE,
And with thy knife, but prune and PARE,
E'vn fruitful trees more fruitful ARE.

Such sharpness shows the sweetest FRIEND:
Such cuttings rather heal than REND
and such beginnings touch their END.

Text: George Herbert

review copy

"Finally, there is Austin Lovelace's seminal setting of George Herbert's Paradise. Those who don't know Herbert's magnum opus, The Temple, won't understand the challenge the poet set himself (and anyone who would set this poem musically). Each stanza consists of three lines of eight syllables, ending on a monosyllabic accented word. The last word in the second line of each stanza is formed by dropping the first letter of the last word in line one, and the last word in the third line of each stanza is formed by dropping the first letter(s) of the last word in line two. Thus, in the first stanza, the final word of the first line 'grow,' becomes 'row' in the second line, and 'ow[e]' in the third line:

I bless thee, Lord, because I GROW
Among thy trees, which in a ROW
To thee both fruit and order OW

The challenge of the composer--liek the challenge of the poet--is somehow to use the artifice in a completely artless manner. Lovelace has--as I said--given us a seminal setting; he has met the challenge with seemingly effortless grace and beauty. No small part of his success is that it is intuitive, rather than mathematical. This is a superior Rogationtide anthem that deserves to take its place alongside such timeless classics as Bairstow's I sat down under his shadow." --AAM Journal, January 2003

"Paradise is a wonderful a capella work that will be useful on many occasions." -Modern Liturgy, May 1994.


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