This work for men’s chorus, oboe, and string orchestra (or organ) was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists, Yakima Chapter, on the occasion of their regional convention. The preface to the work is extensive and begins: “In my long life as a composer of church music there have been two major turning points, moments in time in which external directives were abandoned and a new different direction undertaken.” The first rejection was that of the academic approach to composition—break the rules of counterpoint, disobey your composition teacher. Phoenix (1975) was the result of this rejection. The second was Peter’s “rejection of the idea of God as a distant, paternalistic, anthropomorphic being as found in the Prayer of Humble Access (“…we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table…”).” The setting of Michelangelo’s text is the result of this rejection. To the Supreme Being was the only work that Peter specifically requested be performed at his tribute concert in 2015—and he specifically requested that Roupen Shakarian conduct.
In addition to the choral/organ score, purchase includes a PDF of the oboe part. String parts are available for purchase upon request from the publisher.
The prayers we make will then be sweet indeed
If Thou the spirit give by which we pray.
Our unassisted hearts are barren clay,
Which of its native self can nothing feed:
Of good and pious works Thou are the seed,
Which quickens only when Thou say’st it may:
Unless Thou show to us Thine own true way
No one can find it, Lord! Thou must lead.
Do Thou, then, breathe those thoughts into our minds
By which such virtue may be bred
That in thy holy footsteps we may tread;
The fetters of our tongues unbind,
That we may have the grace by which our songs may rise to Thee,
That we may sound thy priases everlastingly.
—Michelangelo, trans. William Wordsworth, alt.