Two sacred settings for SSAATTB a cappella choir, of Ave maris stella and Psalm 102, vv1-12 (RSV)
- 7 minutes
- For Elizabeth Poston
- Download the lyrics
A setting of (i) the Latin hymn Ave maris stella and (ii) Psalm 102, for SSAATTB a capella choir. Ideally they should be sung as a pair, but they are free-standing if desired.
Prayer and Supplication was commissioned in 1979 by Adrian Pitts, conductor of Bristol University Chamber Choir, who gave the first performance there in the Wills Memorial Building in that year.
The work is dedicated to the composer Elizabeth Poston who attended a performance at the Royston Arts Festival in May 1985. She was accompanied by the Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson.
The two religious pieces are seemingly disparate in style and content, but both borrow from monastic plainchant, and both end with a similar cadential Amen. In the second piece, this Amen is suitably extended to form a more substantial ending.
The first piece is for SSAATTB chorus, and is a Latin setting of the hymn, Ave maris stella (Hail, star of the sea). Parallel fifths are prominent to create a feeling of antiquity, yet the fifths are frequently superimposed to maintain contemporary expression. The Amen ends peacefully on a bare D fifth, ambiguously major/minor.
The second piece is an English setting of verses 1-12 of Psalm 102 (Hear my prayer, O Lord let my cry come to thee!), from the Revised Standard Version.
The majority of this setting is monodic, in pseudo plainchant — each voice part entering in turn from the bass part upwards. The final verse of the psalm, the setting of the Gloria and the cadential Amen are harmonised at last, and revert to the style of the Ave Maris Stella. The piece concludes, this time in B flat major, with an exuberant cluster chord.
- 12 February 1979 at the Wills Memorial Building, Bristol, with the Bristol University chamber choir and Adrian Pitts (conductor)
18 May 1985 at St John the Baptist church, Royston, Hertfordshire, with Chanticleer chamber choir. Performed at Royston Arts Festival
In advance of this event, the dedicatee Elizabeth Poston wrote: “Your lovely parcel came today. How very sweet of you. The dedication of your Prayer and Supplication is a great honour. I do appreciate it. The words look fascinating.” Letter to the composer, 15 May 1985.