for Choir and chamber ensemble
Composition Date: 2005
Instrumentation: S.S.A.T.B.(Tub Bell (opt)-2Tr-Rec(2T-Rec), Chamber Org, 2BaroqueVln, Vdga, Violone
Commissioned and first performed by Dunedin Consort and Players directed by John Butt, at Holy Trinity Church, Pitlochry, on 15 November 2007.
The Still Point
Showings uses texts by the 14th Century anchoress Julian of Norwich, who received a series of visions during a severe illness. These were the Revelations of Divine Love, or ‘Showings’. In her teaching Julian asserts that we should see God primarily as all loving, and presents an extraordinary optimism and peacefulness in the face of the considerable suffering of her time.
The piece has three movements. The first uses a very short, encircling fragment – a falling semitone rising to a third and then returning.
The second movement starts very softly with a continuous middle C, contrasted with whispering in the choir and fast, rustling string passages. Gradually these unsettled elements are drawn into the central note, and the movement is resolved, with bells, on C.
For Love sets the question and answer structure of the text with simple phrases and choral refrains. The texture is harmonic, with the strings colouring the vocal lines.
The work lasts about 10 minutes.
The original version was commissioned by the Strathendrick Singers with funding from the Scottish Arts Council. It was first performed by the Strathendrick Singers in 2005 at Killearn Kirk, Stirlingshire, conducted by their director, Rosalind MacGowan.
This new chamber version was commissioned by the Dunedin Consort, and uses two recorders and chamber organ, as well as baroque violins, viola da gamba and violone. The vocal writing is for solo singers, rather than choral. This version was first performed at Holy Trinity Church, Pitlochry, on Thursday 15 November 2007, by the Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt.
Sally Beamish 2007
In his love he wraps and holds us.
He enfolds us in love,
and he will never let us go.
From him we come,
in him we are enfolded,
to him we return.
II. The Still Point
God is the still point at the centre.
III. For Love
Learn it well. Love was his meaning.
Who showed it you?
What did he show you?
Why did he show you?
Love was our Lord’s meaning.
Julian of Norwich
from “Enfolded in Love – Daily Readings with Julian of Norwich’ translated by members of the Julian Shrine, and published by Darton, Hodder and Staunton.
Copyright 1980 The Julian Shrine.
Text reproduced with kind permission from Darton, Hodder and Staunton.