Gwyneth Walker

Breath of God

for SSA Chorus, Flute, and Piano (2008)

Return to Gwyneth Walker Music Catalog

Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work by the North Central College Women's Chorale, Ramona Wis, conductor.


Commissioned by the North Central College Women's Chorale in celebration of their 15th anniversary. Premiered by the North Central College Women's Chorale, Dr. Ramona Wis, music director, May 17, 2009, Naperville, Illinois.

Breath of God is a new musical setting of the hymn lyrics, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” (poem by Edwin Hatch, 1835-1899). This song speaks of air and of breathing. It is a celebration of the breath of life, the wonder of creation. And thus, the flute, a wind instrument, was selected as a primary “voice” in the musical expression.

The flute introduction may be heard to express the breath of God flowing into humankind. This is spacious, “cantabile” music. The chorus then enters singing two verses of the song. The mood is calm and prayerful.

A contrasting, energetic section, with ascending lines, comes in choral phrases, “Grow in me, joy of God...for my body and soul glow in a fire divine!” The flute, “sparked” by this music, responds with a lively interlude which leads into the closing section “Live in me, life of God. Infuse my heart with grace.” The music grows in dynamics and tempi into an ending filled with arpeggios in flute and piano.

The nature of the flute material – from peaceful to energetic to rhythmic to celebratory – reflects the evolving sentiments of the text. The ending is indeed filled with the air – the breath of life!

Notes by the composer