Come, Let Us Go Again (2016)
for SATB Chorus, Brass Quintet, Timpani, and Organ
Text by Richard Leach
Duration: 4.5 min.
Dedication: in memory of J. Reilly Lewis (1944–2016)
Commission: Commissioned by the Cathedral Choral Society, Washington, D.C.
Come, Let Us Go Again (2016) was commissioned by the Cathedral Choral Society of Washington, D.C. The commission was made possible by the Richard Wayne Dirksen Endowment Fund. The work is dedicated in memory of J. Reilly Lewis (1944–2016).
I was delighted to accept a commission from the Cathedral Choral Society and its music director of many years, J. Reilly Lewis, to compose a new Christmas work for premiere at their 2016 “Joy of Christmas” concerts. Since 2001, CCS has commissioned a new work each year for this occasion.
Preliminary discussions of the piece began with Reilly Lewis, but his death on June 9, 2016 came as a significant surprise to the D.C. and wider American musical community. With the CCS beginning its first season since 1985 without Lewis, I decided that it was impossible for me to imagine not somehow reflecting that in the work to be written. However, Christmas is generally viewed as the most joyous time of the year, and the spirit of the season generally demands music of good cheer and festivity. How then to reconcile these factors?
It seemed a new text was needed and I turned, as I have before, to poet Richard Leach. Richard and I have collaborated a number of times in the past, and Richard’s many hymn texts and poems are widely used throughout the world. Describing the circumstances to him, I told him I imagined something that would begin somewhat quietly, gathering people together in anticipation, and then finally breaking into a joy that celebrates making music “all of our days.” This final sentiment was one that I felt would be especially appropriate to remembering Reilly Lewis, whose entire life until his very last day was devoted to both making music himself and bringing others together in that spirit. It seemed to us that this overall trajectory, while relevant to the present circumstances, also had a universality that stretched beyond CCS and Reilly Lewis.
The music thus follows that path: beginning with a sense of gathering in the dark: coming together amidst a world full of difficulties, wondering how we can make sense of things, spoken and unspoken; even the presence of fear as to an uncertain future. But then joining together in the song and spreading the jubilation of the Christmas message: “fear turned to wonder” — “We will sing and make music all the days of our lives!”