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21 November 2009
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21 November 2009



 Sea Psalm
The work takes as it’s starting point the hymn Eternal Father Strong to Save, and is constructed of fragments taken from the hymn, which then come together in a statement of two verses at the end.* The text is a juxtaposition of Psalm 107 with an account of the sinking of HMS Duchess in 1939, from Sub-Lt J R Pritchard RNVR, only viving officer. On 12 December 1939 HMS Duchess (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. White, RN) was arriving in the Clyde escorting Barham. At 0400 hrs in the North Channel, 9 nm off Mull of Kintyre, at position 55.19 N, 06.06 W, possibly due to fog in the area, the zigzagging pattern of the Barham and Duchess crossed: Barham impacted the Duchess, cutting her in half. There were only 23 survivors of the 160 crew. This was far from being a natural disaster; but the psalm reflects man’s vulnerability at sea. In the case of the sinking of HMS Duchess, there was no storm: the work highlights the helplessness of individuals in the relentless tide of war. The setting of the psalm forms a refrain to the spoken account of the tragedy, which is delivered over a wash of wordless vocalise and whispers.Sea Psalm was commissioned by Opus Anglicanum with funding from the Opus Anglicanum Trust, and first performed by them on June 8th 2008 in Glasgow Cathedral. Sally Beamish 2008