With a Glorious Eye (2001)
Premiere—Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker, cond., Saint Paul, MN 11/06
Published by ECS. Distributed by Canticle.
I became acquainted with John Clare’s work through writing Heard in a Violent Ward, a song cycle based on his poems and letters. Clare (1793-1864) achieved early fame in 1820 through his Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, but spent his last thirty years in an asylum, suffering from what we would now call acute bi-polar disorder.
Clare’s poem invites the listener to contemplate the divine grandeur and the nature of inspiration through the glorious brilliance of the sun. At Philip Brunelle’s suggestion, it was premiered at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Minnesota by London’s Westminster Cathedral Choir conducted by Martin Baker on its American tour in 2006.
With a Glorious Eye is dedicated to my friends George and Frances Reid of Minneapolis. I lived with the Reids for several months in 2001, and they were most generous hosts. With a Glorious Eye was sung at Francie’s memorial service in January 2008. And dear George died in December 2017. I miss them both.
God looks on nature with a glorious eye
And blesses all creation with the sun
Its drapery of green and brown earth ocean lie
in morning as creation just begun
That saffron east fortells the rising sun
And who can look upon that majesty
Of light brightness and splendour nor feel won
With love of him whose bright all seeing eye
Feeds the days light with Immortality.
John Clare (1793-1864)