• Geoffrey Burgon
  • Think On, Dredful Domesday (1969)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • 1(pic)110+cbn1.1.0+btbn.0timp.2percpf.cel[=hp]str(no vn)
  • SATB
  • 22 min

Programme Note

Think on Dredful Domesday was written in 1969. Its shape corresponds loosely to that of the Requiem Mass. The first two sections combine elements of the requiem and Kyrie while the third corresponds to the Dies Irae and the fourth to the lux aeterna. There is also a coda which is an almost exact restatement of the opening section. Another influence on the piece is the sounds and textures of Balinese music and this is most apparent in the instrumentation: the use of piano, celeste, vibraphone and xylophone to try and echo the sounds of ‘selunding’ – Balinese funeral music.

The texts are parts of the Requiem Mass, two anonymous 15th century poems, Nuits de L’enfer from Une Saison en Enfer by Rimbaud and After Long Storms from Spenser’s Amoretti.

It is scored for soprano solo, mixed chorus, piccolo, oboe, E flat clarinet, contra bassoon, horn, trumpet, bass trombone, piano, celeste, lower strings, timpani and percussion.

Farewell this world! I take my leve for evere.
I am arrested to apere at Goddes face.
0! mightyful God, thu knowest that I had levere
Than all this worl to have oone hourespace
To make asithe for all my grete trespass.
My hort, alas! is vrokene for that sorrowe:
Sum are today that shall not be tomorrowe.

Farewell! my frendes, the tide abideth no man.
I moste departe hence, and so shall ye.
But in this passage the beste song that I can
Is 'Requiem Eternam'. I pray God grant it me,
When I have ended all mine adversite
Grant me in Paradise to have a mansion,
That shede his blode for my redempcion.
Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur. Humiliatus sum vermis.
(translated: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. I am brought low with the worms.)

Anon 15th Century

Gay, gay, gay, gay
Think on dredful Domesday.

Every day thou might lere
To help thyself while thou are here.
Whan thou art ded and laid on bier
Christ help thy soule, for thou ne may.
Think on thy wittes five.
Do sum good whil thou are live:
Go to church and do thee shrive.
And bring thy soul in good array.

Gay, gay, gay, gay
Think on dredful Domesday.

Think man on thy sinnes sevene.
Think how merye it is in Hevene;
Pray to God with milde Stevene,
He be they help on Domesday.

Loke that thou non thing stere,
Ne non false witness bere:
Think how Christ was stunge with spere
When he dyed on Good Friday.

Gay, gay, gay, gay
Think on dredful Domesday.

Loke that thou ne sle non man,
Ne do non foly with non woman;
Think the blod fro Jesus ran,
Whan he deyed, withouten nay.

Gay, gay, gay, gay
Think on dredful Dommesday

Anon early 15th century

Dies Irae, dies illa,
Sol vet saeclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sybilla.
Quantum tremor est futurus
Quando judex est venturus
Cuncta stricte discusurus.


NUIT DE L'ENFER
J'ai avale une fameuse gorgee de poison. - Trois fois beni soit le conseil qui m'est arrive! - Les entrailles me brulent. La violence du venin tord mes membres, me rend difforme, me
terrasse. Je meurs de soif, j'etouffe, je ne puis crier. C'est l'enfer, l'eternelle peine. Voyez comne le feu se releve! Je brule camme il taut. Va, demon!
J' avais entrevue la conversation au bien et au bonheur, le salut. Puis-je decrire la vision, l'air de le'enfer ne souffre pas des hymnes! C' etait des millions de creatures charmantes, un suave concert spirituel, la force et la paix, les nobles ambitions, que sais-je?
Et c' est encore la vie! - Si la damnation est eternelle! Un homme qui vont se mutiler est bien damne, n' est-ce pas? Je me crois en enter, donc j'y suis. C'est l'execution de catechisme. Je suis esclave de mon bapteme. Parents, vous avez fait mon malheur et vous avez fait le votre.
Pauvre innocent! - L'Enfer ne peut attaquer les paiens. - C'est la vie encore! Plus tard, les delices de la damnataion seront plus profondes. Un crime, vite, que je tombe au neant, de part la loi humaine.

Rimbaud

(translated: I have swallowed a famous gulp of poison - Thrice blessed be the idea which came to me! My entrails are burning. The violence of the poison racks my limbs, twists me out of shape, throws me to the ground. I die of thirst, I choke, I cannot cry out. This is Hell, the everlasting torment! Look how the fire rises higher! I am burning properly. There, then, demon!

I had just glimpsed a conversion to goodness, happiness, salvation. Let me describe the vision: The air of Hell allows no hymns! It was a myriad of enchanting creatures, a suave spiritual harmony, strength and peace, noble, ambitious - I know not what.
Noble ambitions! And this is yet life! What if damnation is eternal? A man who desires self-mutilation is truly damned, is he not? I believe myself in Hell; therefore I am there. It is the ratification of the catechism. I am the slave of my baptism. Parents, you have caused my misfortune and your own. Poor innocent! - Hell cannot touch pagans - I am still alive! Later on, the delights of damnation will deepen. Quickly! - A crime, so that I may fall into the void, in the name of human Law.)

After long storms and tempests sad assay.
which hardly I endured heretofore:
in dread of death and daungerous dismay,
with which my silly barke was tossed sore:

I doe at length descry the happy shore,
in which I hope ere long for to arrive;
fayre soyle it seems from far and fraught with store
of all that dear and daynty is alyve.

Most happy he that can at last atchyve
the ioyous safety of so sweet a rest:
whose least delight sufficeth to deprice
remembrance of all paines which him opprest.

All paines are nothing in respect of this,
all sorrowes short that gain eternal bliss.

Spenser

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