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(Photograph of conductors Terry Koch and Christine Janis, Sarita McCaw, and Gwyneth Walker.)
Commissioned by the Walla Walla Choral Society in memory of Bill McCaw
God's World combines two texts by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), the first, expressing a group sentiment and the second, a personal/individual sentiment. Both poems praise the Earth.
The opening section is based on the poem, "God's World," ("O world, I cannot hold thee close enough"). The chorus and piano perform close harmonies, as if "embracing" the beauty of the earth. Repeated notes may be heard as gentle touches of this beauty. Arpeggiated chords in the accompaniment are marked "as bird calls."
The music rises to the expression of "Lord, I do fear, thou hast made the world too beautiful this year." And then the poem and music subside to the delicate phrase, "prithee, let no bird call."
A solo voice enters with a musical setting of the poem "Afternoon on a Hill," ("I will be the gladdest thing under the sun..."). These phrases are filled with the pronoun "I." The singer is the individual wanderer who has climbed a hill to admire the view. "I will look at cliffs and clouds with quiet eyes." As daylight fades, she descends to the town.
The opening section of the music returns, but with only the first phrase ("O world, I cannot hold thee close enough"). The song concludes with joyous expressions of the title, "God's World." For indeed, this is God's world -- not of our making.
Notes by the composer