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Parry, Ben: Lighten our Darkness

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SATB unaccompanied

To be sung ‘like a mantra’, Ben Parry’s Lighten our Darkness is a meditation on the Third Collect for Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer. A numinous response to the timeless beauty of Thomas Cranmer’s prose, its profound effect is the result of the simplest means employed to express the theme of spiritual illumination and the splendour of light. A calmly radiant C major pervades the hypnotic outer sections, chant-like and white-note throughout. In contrast, the central episode offers warmth and consolation in a chromatically inflected E flat major, with the previously fragmented text now announced in solemn chords. When the first section returns with even richer choral divisions, the light is manifest and sharper still, only softened in the final, hushed cadence to the concluding amens. Lighten our Darkness was written for the annual concert for Gift of Sight, a charity supporting research at the University of Southampton into the treatment of blinding eye diseases. Recorded on the Choir of Royal Holloway’s portrait disc of Ben’s choral music The Hours (Signum SIGCD629), it may be programmed effectively in concert, especially alongside classics of faith minimalism by Górecki, Pärt and Tavener, or liturgically as part of Anglican worship, or as a memorable choral element in the celebration of night prayer.

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