The Evening Lamps Alight (2017) 6'
For solo organ.
Commissioned by Gretna Music in honor of the 125th anniversary of the town of Mount Gretna, PA. Premiered at the Mount Gretna Playhouse, 9/10/17. Self-published (Morningside Press, ASCAP).
The Evening Lamps Alight is a chorale prelude on the Chautauqua hymn ‘Day is dying in the west.’ It takes its title from a particularly beautiful turn of phrase in the hymn’s first verse: ‘wait and worship while the night / sets the evening lamps alight / through all the sky.’ The fabric of this music is very much woven with the spirit of a traditional chorale prelude in mind – it seeks to celebrate the original hymn melody and to decorate it with vivid new materials. My prelude faithfully articulates its hymn at various levels of transposition, in several different meters, and amongst somewhat exotic harmonies. Throughout these different contexts, the original melody is always at the foreground of the work. However, I have designed one important change to the hymn’s structure. Rather than alternating between verse and chorus sections, as one typically would when singing a hymn, this piece instead articulates a binary form: first, it develops the verse material, and then, separately, develops the hymn’s chorus material. This slight but important structural change is intended to highlight the beautiful shift from stepwise to arpeggiated melodic writing in the original hymn, and it also allows for a more dramatic sense of narrative arc across this prelude. If you don’t know the original hymn melody, I hope this music will stand on its own for you. But if you do know the hymn, then I hope this piece might also offer you a way to deepen your hearing of that original melody.