Gwyneth Walker

Let Evening Come

for SSA Chorus and Piano (2001)
for SATB Chorus, Opt. Percussion, and Piano (2006)

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Download an an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SSA version) by Bella Voce Women's Chorus of Vermont with the Essex High School Women's Chorus (Kaleidoscope), Dawn Willis, conductor.

Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB version) by the The Master Singers of Worcester and the Salisbury Singers, Malcolm Halliday, conductor.

View/download a perusal PDF file (SSA version) of this work.
View/download a perusal PDF file (SATB version) of this work.

Commissioned by the State University of New York at Fredonia Women's Chorus, Gwen Detwiler, director.

The rural New England landscape can inspire introspective poetry. Such is the case in the beautiful poem, “Let Evening Come,” by Jane Kenyon (1947-1995 – Wilmot, New Hampshire). Here we find many references to the countryside – the farm, bales of hay, the shed, the fox in her den. And for all of these, evening comes at the close of day, the end of life or the end of struggle. “Let it come as it will, and don’t be afraid. God does not leave us comfortless.” This is the message from the land, and from the soul connected to the land.

This musical setting focuses on several images associated with evening. The opening, four-note motive in the piano accompaniment might be heard as church bells tolling the coming of nightfall. These bells return (with singing) at the end of the song.

The chorus enters with the phrase, "Let evening come." This is sung initially all on one pitch (D), and later moves only to surrounding pitches. This static and peaceful pattern anchors the music, and offers a reassurance of the inevitable return of evening, and of comfort.

Various soloists, in a gentle recitative, present the opening stanzas of the poem -- images of afternoon leading into evening. The soloists continue, and the group refrain of "Let evening come" is repeated more and more quickly, uniting as the full chorus sings: "Let it come as it will, and don't be afraid." The music culminates in a celebratory singing of "Let evening come," with rapid accompaniment (church bells) in the piano.

Notes by the composer