Gwyneth Walker

The Grace of the World

for High Voice and Piano (2020)

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The poetry of Wendell Berry (b. 1934) is profoundly and beautifully American. These words portray the rural landscape, and the creatures who dwell thereon. Natural patterns of worship unfold. The trees (great trees) form a Timbered Choir to surround a Meeting Room in the forest. Birds (hopping birds) fill the congregation: light, leaf, foot, hand and wing - such order as we know. And over all comes a peace, The Peace of Wild Things.

The musical settings use a simple and sparse language, in keeping with the style of the poems. A solo piano line, marked as a solitary bird in the distance, opens and closes the first song. The gathering for worship (second song) is often filled with sustained chords (as a group together). Or, the little birds hop about with staccato chords (and many rests!).

Throughout the songs, the vocal line aims primarily for clarity of expression of the text. This is an unadorned message: I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Notes by the composer