I’m freshly back at my desk in Dubai feeling extremely effervescent today, having hung out with some exceptionally brilliant musicians this week, aka the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge and new Director of Music, Christopher Gray. You can hear the world premiere of the first of three pieces I am writing for the choir this year, The Hidden Light at A Service for Advent with Carols, 3pm GMT on December 3rd on BBC Radio 3.

All three pieces in the commission are settings of inspiring and highly connected poems by the priest and poet Malcolm Guite. Here’s the first:

The Hidden Light

It’s getting darker, darker all the time
And she is weary and beset with fear
Yet in the darkness of her womb he stirs,
Her tiny hope, the one who is to come.
So on she plods, on past the hostile stares
The checkpoints and the soldiers on the street
Seeking some shelter, somewhere to retreat
And bring to birth the hidden light she bears.
She finds her shelter now and we attend her
Attend this burdened girl who speaks for us,
Whispers to God a broken world’s soft ‘yes,
‘Come to be born with us, come find us here
Outface for us the darkness we can’t face,
Show us the face of Love that casts out fear’.

Malcolm gives hearty permission to anyone who wishes to read this poem in a service over the Christmas period. Meanwhile, my second piece based on one of his poems, Refugee, will be performed at the Epiphany carol services at St John’s on 20 and 21 January. The third piece, Still to Dust, with an environmental theme, will be premiered on 9 March 2024 at a special Lenten service. Please join me on either of these occasions, as they are free and open to the public.

One thought on “Triptych Commission for St John’s College, Cambridge

  1. […] Dubai-based composer Joanna Marsh set Malcolm Guite’s sonnet ‘The hidden light’ for the Advent service at St John’s College, Cambridge. She says the author gives hearty […]

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