One of my favorite choral anthems will be sung by the LCH Choir this week but unfortunately we’ll be in Bremerton, WA, celebrating the life of Carl’s stepfather, Edwin Runquist, who died last weekend. The anthem will be “The Lamb,” by contemporary British composer, John Tavener (b. 1944), and you can view a YouTube video of King’s College, Cambridge, singing this exquisite anthem by clicking here. According to Tavener’s website, The Lamb, composed in 1982, has become a classic and has been recorded on 37 different CDs. It was inspired by the poetry of William Blake and written for the third birthday of his nephew, Simon. Here is the text:
Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee? Gave thee life, and bid thee feed By the stream and o’er the mead; Gave thee clothing of delight, Softest clothing, woolly, bright; Gave thee such a tender voice, Making all the vales rejoice? Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee, Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee: He is called by thy name, For he calls himself a Lamb. He is meek, and he is mild; He became a little child. I, a child, and thou a lamb, We are called by his name. Little Lamb, God bless thee! Little Lamb, God bless thee!
(Words: William Blake)
I noticed that the St. Andrew’s Cathedral choir is singing the same anthem this Sunday. Even though this piece is also appropriate during the Christmas season, I dare say that it would be a perfect anthem for a funeral, too. This week’s reading from the Gospel of Mark says ” . . . he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
You may remember another of Tavener’s profound and haunting compositions which was sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, “Song for Athene,” which I have embedded below:
I was sorry to learn that John Tavener is not in good health, having suffered a stroke in his thirties, heart surgery and a tumor in his forties, and two successive heart attacks, in addition to have Marfan syndrome.
This Sunday the LCH Choir will travel to St. Andrew’s Cathedral for a Joint Evensong, Sept. 23rd at 5:30 pm. The repertoire will include Herbert Howell’s Gloucester Service and two anthems by Felix Mendelssohn, Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen über dir (1844) and Verleih’ uns Frieden (1831).