“Beatitudes [has a] calm, serene beauty and simplicity… Creative and compelling..” GRAMOPHONE
“…capture[s] a mood of enchantment, optimism, and serenity. Beatitudes [has] character and tenderness.” CHURCH TIMES
The eight verses of St Matthew’s Gospel which form the Beatitudes are some of the best-known and best-loved of the New Testament. They are, quite simply, some of Christ’s most comforting and beautiful words. The recurrence of the word ‘blessed’ makes for a unified collection of pieces – closely linked but each with its own particular message and character.
The Poor in Spirit has the feeling of an introduction and creates an almost mystical atmosphere with its minor key and wavelike piano patterns. Those Who Mourn is simple but deep. The falling melody in the piano and the off-beat rhythms in the choir evoke a sense of sighing and grief. The Meek is full of optimism and gradually builds to an intense climax with Christ’s inspirational promise that ‘they shall inherit the earth’. The piano writing in Those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness feels quite different. There is a pulsating in the rhythm and a richness in the chords which underpin the powerful sentiment that those who hunger and thirst will be satisfied. The short piano postlude lingers on the air of satisfaction and completeness. The Merciful is the longest and most involved of the musical settings. There are dotted rhythms and rich choral harmonies and, in the louder sections, these create a feeling of battle and warfare as Christ the Redeemer fights to offer mercy to those who are merciful themselves. This all provides the perfect contrast for The Pure in Heart which is indeed heartfelt and comforting. The harmonies are uncomplex, and the choir delivers the words in a straightforward but emotive manner. The Peacemakers has a feeling of greater freedom and space. The opening piano chords are almost floating and prominence is given to the innocent sound of the sopranos before a more majestic section for full choir which speaks of the sons of God. Those who are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake draws the Beatitudes to a conclusion by referring to rhythms, melodic fragments and piano phrases from the earlier sections. There is a brief reference to the opening bars of The Poor in Spirit, before the choir finally looks towards the kingdom of heaven.
The Sheet Music for Those Who Mourn and The Pure in Heart are both available as standalone works.