Friday, 16 January 2009

Choral Setting

Kate McIlhagga was born and remained at heart a Scot, though she spent most of her working life south of the border.  She was a remarkable word-smith whose imagery and economy of language spoke, and still speaks to many people.  She was inspired in the last decade of her life (she died in 2002) by the environs of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, when she wrote most of her poetry.  I was delighted recently when I found that a young composer, Jim Clements, has set one of her pieces to music.  Jim graduated from Manchester University in 2005 and presently is a lay clerk at Southwark Cathedral in London.  He has composed a number of choral pieces in a modern classical style including Go gently by Kate.  Her short poem was prompted by Deitrich Bonhoeffer's words, 'Death is the last great festival on the road to freedom'.

'Go gently on your voyage, beloved.
Slip away with the ebb tide,
rejoice in a new sunrise.

May the moon make a path across the sea for you,
the Son provide a welcome.
May the earth receive you and the fire cleanse you
as you go from our love
into the presence of Love's completeness.'

You can hear Jim Clements' setting, which he composed at the request of a friend, on his website.  Google his name and follow the link to 'My Space Page', and then to 'Go gently'.  It is beautifully sung by the choir of Worcester Cathedral.  I understand that he hopes to publish some of his work, including Go gently, in the not too distant future.

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