Gwyneth Walker

Passion and Remembrance

for SATB Chorus and Piano (2012-18) (the 2nd movement is unaccompanied; an SSA version of the 3rd movement is also available)

Return to Gwyneth Walker Music Catalog

Download an MP3 file of a performance of the first movement ("God's World") of this work by the Denison University Chamber Singers, Jennifer Morgan Flory, conductor.

Download a PDF file of selected sample pages of the first movement ("God's World") of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Download a PDF file of selected sample pages of the second movement ("Mindful of You") of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Download a PDF file of selected sample pages of the third movement ("Back and Forth on the Ferry"; SATB version) of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Download a PDF file of selected sample pages of the third movement ("Back and Forth on the Ferry"; SSA version) of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.

Download a PDF file of the Edna St. Vincent Millay poetry used in this work as text for printing in concert programs.


(Photograph of conductors Terry Koch and Christine Janis, Sarita McCaw, and Gwyneth Walker at the premiere of "God's World.")

A photo from Walla Walla premiere

God's World was commissioned by the Walla Walla Choral Society in memory of Bill McCaw

Mindful of You was commissioned by the Terra State Choral Society (Fremont, OH) in memory of their beloved accompanist, recently deceased. The composer envisioned that no pianist be on stage for the premiere.

The poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) expresses a wide breadth of sentiments, covering topics as diverse as passion, faith, reverence and humor. The poems selected for this set, Passion and Remembrance, typify the variety of the poet's expression. Throughout, love of nature, love of humankind, and delight in life's journey bind together the poetic explorations.

The opening song, "God's World," combines two poems: "God's World" (O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!) and "Afternoon on a Hill" (I will be the gladdest thing under the sun). The poet, a romantic, is in love with the world, God's world. I cannot hold thee close enough...

"Mindful of You" is a song of remembrance, specifically remembering a departed friend through the seasons of the year. All of nature's elements -- the flowers, the winds, the bared branches -- are in mourning. They are mindful. You were something more than young and sweet and fair, -- and the long year remembers you.

"Back and Forth on the Ferry" is a humorous depiction of a youthful ride on the Staten Island (NY) Ferry. The opening lines set the tone for the entire song -- We were very young. We were very merry. We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry... There is much back and forth in the musical setting (in a swaying 6/8 meter). And, being young, the characters do not seem to mind staying up all night on this trip. They enjoyed the sunrise, and the impracticality of riding the ferry to and fro without a destination!

Notes by the composer



Original notes for "God's World" when performed separately:

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