anthem for SATB choir and brass quintet, or organ, or a cappella; 4' (2012) (commissioned by Emory & Henry College for their 175th anniversary)
performed by the River Valley Community Chorus and members of the local community:
text: Oh God, who gavest me my mind, Whose light within has ever shined, May I not fail through these to find Thy very self.
Not in some awful far-famed shrine Where men Thy splendors would confine, But in this humble heart of mine I look for Thee.
To train my powers to seek an end, To guide my wandering thoughts and bend My energies to nobly spend My all for Thee.
I open now my heart to Thee, My eyes would all Thy beauty see. Take Thou this little life and be Forever near.
composer’s note: I wrote “In Praise of the Mind” to celebrate Emory & Henry College, and more broadly all the wonderful work that higher education does in not just teaching young minds, but training them to think critically. Henry Hodgkin’s wonderful verse felt just right to me: it gives praise to God (as this work was written for a religious service), but does so by praising God for giving us hearts and minds with which to examine the world and find its beauty. My setting of Hodgkin’s verse is simple and open-hearted, seeking to illuminate the wonderfully straightforward virtues that the poet admires.
This piece exists in alternate versions, as well: it was written as an anthem for choir and brass quintet, but there is also a version with organ instead of brass. And then there’s also a third version that simplifies the choral parts and presents the work as a hymn, singable by a congregation of non-musicians.