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When I was approached by Woodford House to write a piece for the Chapel Choir, I was told that the school’s chapel was dedicated to St Francis. I had already set the well-known Prayer of St Francis ('Lord make me an instrument…') twice, and had also set a paraphrase of his Canticle of the Sun (The Circle of Days (2002)). So I searched for something new from his writings. I finally found the short poem The Tree of Love which is an extract from the much longer Into Love’s Furnace I am Cast. With the school surrounded by farmland, the text’s references to nature also seemed very appropriate. To this text I added an Alleluia which is repeated several times at the beginning and again briefly at the end of the work.
The work begins with the choir in unison singing music reminiscent of plainchant. Much of the work is warm simple tonal chords set against a rocking accompaniment from the piano. After building to climax, the work subsides to a quiet conclusion. Throughout, the flute weaves in and around the vocal lines, sometimes echoing and sometimes in dialogue with the voices.
Commissioned by Woodford House, Havelock North for the Chapel Choir and director Tess Tobin
Suitable for school and community choirs
English translation of The Tree of Love by St Francis