Instrumentation: SATB Choir
About the piece:
Commissioned by the Cathedral Choral Society to be performed at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. on their program entitled ‘Solitude and Joy’.
Lincoln is a reflection on the power of the individual. It explores the idea that change is not linear but gradual, and infused with an extreme amount of personal courage. This non-linear nature of change is embedded into the structure of the composition, for the setting of the text was crafted in a way that would reflect the overall affect of the poetry itself. Through the reiteration of each line of text, it is almost as though the repetition empowers the individual to continue on to the next line. It isn’t until the very end when the entire poem is recited in its purest form, ending the composition on a feeling of unity and togetherness.
On this date, March 4, in 1861, Abraham Lincoln took the Constitutional oath of office as sixteenth president of the United States. On Monday, February 11th, at 8:00 AM, the president-elect had left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington. Standing on the train’s platform in a pouring rain, he revoked his hat, asked for silence, and bid his neighbors farewell. “Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended [George Washington], I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”
These poignant words are incised upon the wall in this Cathedral’s Lincoln Bay, underwritten in part by the Lincoln family. The bay’s seven bosses (ornamental keystones) depict verses of the Battle Hymn of the Republic and give shelter to American sculptor Walker Hancock’s larger-than-life bronze statue of Lincoln giving his Farewell Address. On Lincoln’s birthday in 1948, Lincoln Bay was formally consecrated, including the Dedication Tablet graven with words composed by the Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre Jr., cathedral dean emeritus and grandson of another wartime president, Woodrow Wilson.
Text (engraved on a wall of the cathedral):
WHOSE LONELY SOUL
IS HERE REMEMBERED
BY A PEOPLE
THEIR CONFLICT HEALED
BY THE TRUTH
THAT MARCHES ON
March 4, 2018 (PREMIERE)
National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Choir: Cathedral Choral Society
Director: Donald Nally
March 23, 2018
Recital Hall at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music
Choir: Indiana University Chorus
Director: Joshua Harper
April 14, 2018
Choir: Bienen Contemporary Vocal Ensemble (BCE)
Director: Donald Nally
Score and parts available for purchase. Please contact Alex for inquiries.