Wherwell Singers are honoured to be the first choir ever to sing this new work by Will Todd. English composer Todd is well known for his beautiful and exciting music. His work encompasses choral works large and small, opera, musical theatre and orchestral pieces, as well as jazz compositions and chamber works.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the choir, Wherwell Singers commissioned Will Todd to compose a piece reflecting both the choir and its Hampshire surroundings. Choir member Revd. Brian Pickett was instrumental in shaping the composition, submitting lyrics which inspired the composer to produce a work weaving the joy of singing into a running piano accompaniment representing the clear-flowing waters of the local River Test.
“When Dale Webb asked the Wherwell Singers for suggestions for the text of an anniversary commission, I started looking for verses which reflected the joy of singing in an inclusive community choir and depicted the character of the village where we sing, perhaps written by a local poet.
Wherwell’s gardens and the River Test suggested the rich nature imagery of Ecclesiasticus in the Apocrypha, often used for Marian anthems. I imagined water rippling through the music, as the chalk streams run through the village.
I matched this with verses from Anne Steele (1717-1778), daughter of a timber merchant and Baptist pastor, eight miles away in Broughton.
Though her life was touched by pain from a riding fall and the death of her fiancé the day before their wedding, Anne’s work reflects a love of the Hampshire countryside and joy in her Creator. This text is drawn from A Rural Hymn, and the prayerfulness permeating the music, like the fragrance of a garden, expresses our wonder at the God ‘whose work we are’.”
Will Todd selected the title Let Every Voice for his composition, and the lyrics woven together by Brian form poetry of their own:
Let Every Voice
Listen to me, my children,
and blossom like a rose
beside a running stream.
Flower like a lily,
waft your fragrance,
singing your praises.
Bless the Lord for all his works
with music on your lips. (Ecclesiasticus 39.13-15)
His works you are,
he tuned your voice
and you rejoice
beneath his care.
Let every voice
proclaim his power,
his name adore
and loud rejoice. (Anne Steele – written before 1760)
Brian Pickett 2016
Brian Pickett read German and Classics before training for the ministry and researching in Hebrew. He served nearly forty years in parish work and hospital chaplaincy. As an Anglican priest, he continues to lead retreats and lecture on spirituality. His interest in spirituality and music is reflected in his books ‘The Heart of Love’ on German women mystics, and ‘Songs for the Journey’ on the Psalms.