Octavo of the Month (October 2006)
Mike Walag, ICDA High School R&S Chair
The World's Desire
SATB, a cappella
This is a beautiful, introspective Christmas piece crafted by Canadian composer, Eleanor Daley, on a 19th century text by G.K.Chesterton. The sacred poem, set in strophic form, likens the Christ-child’s hair to a light, a star (vs. 3), a fire (vs. 4), and finally, in the last verse, a “crown”. The tone of the music would be perfect for a Christmas Eve service.
A simple, lyrical melody, rising and falling in arched, monophonic phrases opens the piece. Verse two adds a rich four/five part harmony with chain suspensions and step-wise voice leading.
The third verse transfers the melody to the men, with triadic, divisii harmony above in the women’s voices. Verse four thins out the texture a bit with SAT choir at the beginning of the verse, but, then escalating and thickening with the addition of the basses, baritones, and a soprano descant, building up to a climax on “the World’s Desire”.
The last verse continues the descant and full texture in support of the Christ-child’s “crown”, eventually tapering off to a quiet, but still magnificent ending as the “stars looked down”. Intonation and phrasing will be the biggest technical challenges. The expressivity of the music should come quite naturally and will be a definite bonus to the singers.