Gwyneth Walker

Eternal Brightness

for SATB Chorus and Organ (2009)
(2nd movement is unaccompanied)

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Download an MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Myron Heaton Chorale; Myron Heaton, conductor; Lois Z. Toeppner, organist.
Download an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.

Commissioned by the Myron Heaton Chorale in celebration of their 20th anniversary season: 1990-2010 and especially for Lois Z. Toeppner, Organist and friend of the Chorale

Premiered by the Myron Heaton Chorale, Myron Heaton, Music Director, Lois Z. Toeppner, Organist, May 22, 2010, Las Vegas, Nevada

Eternal Brightness is a set of three choral works which revisit "old favorites" in the hymn repertoire. The lyrics are varied slightly. New music has been composed for two of the three songs. The intent has been to update the original materials with new energy, clarity, singability and lively organ accompaniments.

"Sweet Accord" presents the Isaac Watts text in a rousing Colonial New England style of angular melody and four-square rhythm. Special attention was given to creating the "sweet accord" harmony - a chord cluster (added-tone chord) to signify the "joining together" referred to in the lyrics. This is a joyous, energetic song.

The second selection. "Lord Jesus, Think on Me," employs both familiar lyrics and melody (based on the hymn tune "Southwell"). The setting is a cappella in the spirit of a gentle and reflective expression. A counterpoint of rapidly flowing 8th notes ("Lord Jesus, think on me...") is placed against the quarter-note melody, perhaps to be heard as a prayerful recitation. This is an especially personal song ("think on me") which rises to a climax ("That I may eternal brightness see") before fading to a quiet prayer.

"The Beauty of the Earth" is celebratory. In contrast with the original hymn, which is both lyrical and thankful, this new setting is joyful and lively. Both the choir and the organ "bounce" through their celebration! A solo organ interlude in the middle section forms clusters intended to "fill the earth with beauty."

Eternal Brightness was composed specifically for the Myron Heaton Chorale for performances in the United States as well as on concert tours abroad. It is hoped that these very American songs will be good "ambassadors" wherever they may be heard!

Notes by the composer