Commissioned by Spitalfields Festival in memory of Peter Lerwill with funds from his friends: John Crisp, Peter Crisp and Jeremy Crouch, Andrew Luff, Jeremy Lindon, Sylvia Moys, Michael and Wendy Smith, David Wardrup

  • SATB divisi
  • 7 min
  • George Herbert

Programme Note

These three short chorus settings of famous poems by George Herbert (1593-1633) were written in memory of Peter Lerwill, a dear friend and generous supporter of the Spitalfields Festival. When I set Herbert’s verse about ‘a sweet and vertuous soul, like season’d timber’, it was Peter who came instantly to mind.

The formal care with which the poet laid out his words on the page was an important clue in the organisation of the music. The unaccompanied vocal ensemble begins simply, but progressively divides into as many as eight parts. In Prayer, the final and most complex piece, pairs of solo voices are heard amidst the massed chords, acting as a kind of punctuation. The settings of Vertue and Antiphon are respectively like a madrigal and then a hymn, aiming for the clearest possible presentation of the wonderful words.



Vertue: Vertue
Vertue: Antiphon
Vertue: Prayer