The Compass Rose Society honored outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at its annual meeting last week, with the premiere performance of “Advent Calendar” an anthem based on a poem by Dr. Williams composed by renowned composer Peter Hallock.
The poem, published in Williams first poetry collection, 'After Silent Centuries' (Oxford, 1994), is quite beautiful:
He will come like last fall's leaf fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud's folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
The piece was presented at an Evensong Service at Canterbury Cathedral. Anglican Communion News services notes that "Peter Hallock is an important influence in modern Anglican church music. During 40 years at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, he produced numerous compositions, including motets and large-scale anthems with instrumental accompaniment. His three-year cycle of psalm settings for choir with congregational antiphons is the most popular Psalter in common use in both the Episcopal and Lutheran denominations in the United States. The popularity of the Compline services he introduced at St. Mark’s spawned a revival of interest in this service, now included in the prayer books of Lutheran and Episcopal denominations worldwide."
Read more about the annual meeting of the Compass Rose Society here.