Celestial Meditations (2000)
for Organ and Brass Choir (3 Trumpets [1 C/2 Bb], 3 Horns, 2 Trombones, Tuba) or Organ, Brass Choir, and Timpani (3 Trumpets [1 C/2 Bb], Horn, 2 Trombones, Euphonium, Tuba) [2005 version]
Robert Lehman, organ; River City Brass Band; Denis Colwell, conductor
Duration: 8 min.
Dedication: for William Berg, Michael Stewart, and the Chicago Brass Choir
Commission: Commissioned for William Berg, Michael Stewart, and the Chicago Brass Choir with a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Howard Skelman / Revised 2005 version commissioned for Robert W. Lehman, Christ Church Episcopal, New Haven, Connecticut and the River City Brass Band, Denis Colwell, music director
Publisher: Lauren Keiser Music Publishing
Celestial Meditations (2000, rev. 2005) for organ and brass choir was originally written for and is dedicated to William Berg, Michael Stewart, and the Chicago Brass Choir, commissioned with a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Howard Skelman. In 2005, a new revision of the work was created for Robert W. Lehman, Christ Church Episcopal, New Haven, Connecticut and the River City Brass Band, Denis Colwell, music director—in celebration of Church Church’s new Lively-Fulcher pipe organ.
The work is in one unbroken movement, divided into two sections. The score is prefaced by a quote by Thomas Traherne which served as the inspiration for the work.
“Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you awake in Heaven: see yourself in your Father’s palace; and look upon the skies, the earth, and the air as celestial joys: having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the angels.” – Thomas Traherne, 1672
The opening section is slow and contemplative—the longing for paradise of a soul bound to earth (plodding through life). Glimpses of heavenly things come and go, but they are only fleeting visions—not yet real. At last, the “transport” begins—a joyous outburst of motion, color, and light—pressing on towards the “trumpet calls of heaven” and eternal glory.
The musical structure of the work is built around the mathematical Magic Square of the Sun (as expounded in 1533 by H. Cornelius Agrippa von Netysheim in his mathematical book De Occulta Philosophia). As the tonal structure of the square is traversed, it presses ever onward to the final D-flat tonality, which comes “out of nowhere”—the final heavenly destination—unlike anything that has come before.