Mid-January: the Choir has recovered from all the extra Christmas services and had a week off. Suddenly Candlemas is looming and the call goes out, “Can we have something different this year?” (If you sing the Nunc Dimittis every week at Evensong, just doing a new version for Candlemas doesn’t really single out this important liturgical date.)
When Edgbaston Old Church commissioned me to write a simple piece of my own choice for SATB with organ, I immediately responded with, “How about a Carol for Candlemas?” and wrote This is the light.
I was thinking of the medieval story carols we all love, and hoped there might be a good text out there, suitable for the story of the Presentation in the Temple. There may be, but I didn’t find it. However, during the search an idea for a text of my own emerged: focussing on the ‘patient waiting’ of Simeon and Anna, and weaving in the back stories of the Annunciation and the Nativity. It was very popular with the choir, who particularly liked the way the music and story unfolded.
“It’s beautiful....makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.”
Choir member at first rehearsal