In Praise of the Mind

anthem for SATB choir and brass quintet; 4′ (2012)
poetry: Henry Hodgkin
(commissioned by Emory & Henry College for their 175th anniversary)

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text:

Oh God, who gavest me my mind,
Whose light within has ever shined,
May I not fail through these to find
Thy very self.

Not in some awful far-famed shrine
Where men Thy splendors would confine,
But in this humble heart of mine
I look for Thee.

To train my powers to seek an end,
To guide my wandering thoughts and bend
My energies to nobly spend
My all for Thee.

I open now my heart to Thee,
My eyes would all Thy beauty see.
Take Thou this little life and be
Forever near.

composer’s note:

HenryHodgkinI wrote “In Praise of the Mind” to celebrate Emory & Henry College, and all the wonderful work that higher education does in not just teaching young minds, but training them to think critically. Henry Hodgkin’s wonderful verse felt just right to me: it gives praise to God (as this work was written for a religious service), but does so by praising God for giving us hearts and minds with which to examine the world and find its beauty. My setting of Hodgkin’s verse is simple and open-hearted, seeking to illuminate the wonderfully straightforward virtues that the poet admires.

This piece exists in alternate versions, as well: it was written as an anthem for choir and brass quintet, but there is also a version with organ instead of bass. And then there’s also a third version that simplifies the choral parts and presents the work as a hymn, singable by a congregation of non-musicians.

sample page:
In Praise of the Mind