Gwyneth Walker

Peace Attend Thee

for Youth Chorus and Women's Chorus (SSA)

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Peace Attend Thee is an adaptation of the traditional Welsh folk song, "All Through the Night." This new version, scored for women's chorus and treble voices, expresses a mother's care for her child, and especially the grief upon losing her child. The mother was unable to protect her child from harm. So she prays, instead, that “peace attend thee” on the "final journey...home through the night."

The mother is surrounded by silence and darkness. Her heart is "bound in sorrow," but she hopes for the strength to last for another day, to endure through the night. The children's voices join with the women’s chorus on the climactic phrase of “hope and light to reach tomorrow...”

Special musical features which might draw the attention of the listener are the change of mode (to a Lydian "heightened 4th step") in the first verse, suggesting the child rising to heaven, and the “wandering” 8th-note accompaniment in the minstrel verse. The next verse mentions the “solemn bell” ringing, and the children’s voices echo the bell from afar. The depth of the mother’s despair, near the end of the song, brings the chorus into its lowest range, to then rise with the “hope and light.” The final chord is a gentle cluster, as the voices of the mothers surround and comfort the child.

This song was inspired by the tragic shooting deaths of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December of 2012. Newtown is not far from the composer’s home in New Canaan, CT.

Notes by the composer