Listen, Sweet Dove
SATB chorus unaccompanied
Text: George Herbert (from “Whitsunday”)
Commissioned by Carolyn Brunelle in honor of Philip Brunelle
Premiere—2023, by the Plymouth Congregational Church Choir, Philip Brunelle,cond., Minneapolis, MN.
Listen sweet Dove unto my song,
And spread thy golden wings in me;
Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing, and fly away with thee.
Such glorious gifts thou didst bestow,
That th’ earth did like a heav’n appear;
The stars were coming down to know
If they might mend their wages, and serve here.
Lord, though we change, thou art the same;
The same sweet God of love and light:
Restore this day, for thy great name,
Unto his ancient and miraculous right.
George Herbert (1593–1633)), from “Whitsunday”
Whitsunday is the name used in Britain and other countries for the Christian holy day of Pentecost. It falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples (as described in Acts 2). George Herbert’s poem, “Whitsunday,” invokes the spirit of the dove which signifies the Holy Spirit. Herbert (1593–1633) was an English poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. Born in Montgomery, Wales, Herbert attended Trinity College, Cambridge, became the University’s Public Orator and sat in Parliament in 1624 and 1625. Often considered a “metaphysical” poet, his lyrics are characterized by a deeply personal tone and mastery of conceit and metaphor.
“Listen, Sweet Dove” was commissioned by Carolyn Brunelle in 2023 in honor of her husband, Philip Brunelle, founder-director of VocalEssence and Choirmaster-organist at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, in honor of his 80th birthday. The anthem is appropriate for Pentecost or general use.