John Rutter Composer
A Gaelic Blessing 'Deep Peace'
Musicology:The music of John Rutter borrows from the Anglican Church roots of his heritage, but also from late Romantic French sonorities and chord progressions; his texts tend either to adapt Biblical passages, or texts from the Anglo-Catholic liturgical tradition. At times, however, he sets non-liturgical Christian texts as anthems none the less beautiful for celebration within these traditions. The poetic text of his A Gaelic Blessing need not even necessarily serve the Christian worship, though it concludes with "Christ the light of the world." Rutter adapts a blessing from ancient Gaelic runic lore, a very rugged and corporeal blessing which asks for the descent of "deep peace" to those hearing. The poet used almost druidical metaphor to plumb the depths of the desired peace - it is the deep peace of the "running wave" and the "flowing air," the "quite earth" and "shining stars" of the "gentle night;" it is the peace of the "moon and stars," and that of "Christ the light of the world." All these facets of deep peace are invoked to descend upon the listener.
A Gaelic Blessing 'Deep Peace'Year: 1978
Genre: Other Choral
Pr. Instrument: Chorus/Choir
Rutter's musical setting for this profound blessing attempts to be as simple as the word "peace," and as deep as the very metaphors. His four-part choral arrangement is quite accessible, and sits above a gently running keyboard accompaniment. Yet subtleties in melody and harmony make this anthem known as one of his most skillful. The melody gently runs upwards to set the "running wave," descends a bit (supported by deeper harmonies) for the "quiet earth," crests on the "shining stars;" it saves its most elegant melodic arch to highlight the climax of "Christ the light of the world." The centrality of this line to Rutter's ear is further emphasized by the Romantic harmonic progression which has built from the "gentle night" to the light at its height, and by a rhythmic hemiola (perhaps suggesting the Trinity) in the approach to this key phrase. A final, lush chordal progression leaves the Gaelic Blessing in a reflective and gracious - and profoundly deep - harmonic realm, with a rounding echo of the opening run casting the sound upwards. Grace and peace to all who hear.
© Timothy Dickey, All Music Guide