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Treseder, Gareth: Come, and let us return unto the Lord

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SATB Double Choir (with Tenor Solo) and Organ

The Lenten anthem Come, and let us return unto the Lord was commissioned in 2019 for London’s Temple Church Choir by Roger Sayer and the Reverend Robin Griffith-Jones, the Director of Music and the Valiant Master of the Temple respectively. The composer wishes to thank them both, as well as Temple Church’s Liturgical Organist Charles Andrews, for his suggested organ registrations.

The work is a dramatic setting for double chorus of a striking passage from Hosea, very much conceived with Parry’s I was glad in mind. Both scores are in three clearly defined sections: firstly triumphant, then contemplative, then returning to the majestic glory of their opening moments. In addition – and the drama here is explicit – each setting allocates individual roles to members of the decani and cantoris, calling for God’s people to turn back to him. This element remains no less vital for performances in non-liturgical contexts. Indeed, wherever possible there should be a distinct separation in staging between the two groups of singers, so that the opening music is experienced as a symbol of diverse peoples beckoning to each other to stand before God.

The anthem opens boldly, signalling that the people should return to the Lord, as one by one, disparate voices cajole one another to affirm this message, although shifting tonalities and cluster chords suggest their uncertainty as how to fulfil that decree. In the second part, a soloist hesitantly steps forward to instruct the assembly about the manifestations of God, before the two choirs represent the divine voice querying the fickleness of the people’s affection. Finally, the opening is reprised, but with new changes of key and a tersely impatient fugato leading to the exultant doxology which concludes, nonetheless, questioningly in a spirit of quiet repentance.

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The choir of the Temple Church, London, sang the anthem in a BBC Choral Evensong broadcast on 21 May 2020:

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