Gwyneth Walker

Wayfaring Stranger

for SATB Chorus and Piano (2008)
for SATB Chorus, Organ, Brass Quintet, and Percussion (2008)

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Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (piano version) by the Philovox Ensemble of Boston, Robert Schuneman, conductor.

Download a PDF file of the choral score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.


Commissioned by the 2008 Ocean Grove Choir Festival and Dr. Jason Tramm, music director and premiered by the Ocean Grove Festival Choir, July 12, 2009 – Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Wayfaring Stranger is based on the traditional American song, I am a Poor, Wayfaring Stranger. The lyrics describe two forms of journey – the journey “home” to be with parents, and the journey to the “Heavenly home” to be with God. These two journeys merge, as one seeks to join with one’s earthly parents in heaven just as one meets with the Heavenly Father at the end of the final voyage.

The imagery of the text is varied, from the tenderness of longing for parents to the celebration of “singing to my God!” Thus, the musical setting endeavors to highlight this emotional range. Each verse receives a different musical expression relevant to the lyrics. The depths of longing (lowest vocal range) associate with missing one’s mother, and the heights of celebration arrive with the words, “I’ll soon be free of earthly trials.”

The musical language is characterized by a recurrent rhythmic underpinning. This walking pattern reflects the journey home – a deliberate tempo with increasing energy. “Precious Savior, bring me home!”

Notes by the composer