Gwyneth Walker

Peace Like a River

for SATB Chorus (1989)

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Peace Like a River is an African-American Spiritual. The composer first heard this song as it was sung by the members of the Palm Beach, Florida Friends Meeting (Quaker) at the end of worship service. The singing was a beautifully calming experience.

As a gift for the Meeting, the composer arranged this song for SATB chorus. Each verse receives its individual setting.

The opening verse is marked "serenely," within the mood of the first time the composer heard the song. The second verse, "I've got pain like an arrow," brings the Tenors and Basses to accentuate the word, "pain."

"I've got strength like a mountain" is sung by the Tenors and Basses, with "ah's" in the Sopranos and Altos, as if lifting a heavy load. Then the fountain flows, with the melody framed by flowing counterpoint.

Determination is a very Quaker trait. This fifth verse is performed by all voices, forcefully. The ending is a celebration of the strength of the soul.

Notes by the composer