Communion in Light is a setting for four female voices (SSAA) with harp accompaniment of three verses from a communion hymn written by Johann Franck in 1645, as translated into English in 1863 by Catherine Winkworth.
It gives the impression of being more difficult to sing than it actually is and as a result creates quite a stir among an audience or congregation when performed. This makes it an ideal project for any ladies’ choir. If a harpist is not available the piece can be sung unaccompanied without much loss of effect.
Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
come into the daylight's splendour,
there with joy thy praises render
unto him whose grace unbounded
hath this wondrous banquet founded;
high o'er all the heavens he reigneth,
yet to dwell with thee he deigneth.
Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e'er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth:
at thy feet I cry, my Maker,
let me a fit partaker
of this blessed food from heaven,
for our good, thy glory, given.
Jesus, Bread of life, I pray thee,
let me gladly here obey thee;
never to my hurt invited,
be thy love with love requited;
from this banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasure;
through the gifts thou here dost give me,
as thy guest in heaven receive me.
features this lovely instrumental arrangement
I wrote this in the late spring of 1986 as a wedding present for two friends from our local Baptist church. I cannot recall ever having sung the words despite them appearing in various hymn books; and the tune to which they are traditionally sung seemed so dreary and pedantic as to make the words cry out for a new setting. My original version was an unaccompanied setting for six solo voices (SSATBB), which we sang during an evening service in Wycliffe Baptist Church, Reading, two weeks after Paul and Rose were married. The church’s associate pastor (Phil Holder) had arrived slightly late for the service, walking in just as we were singing this. After the service he said this to me: “When I arrived I thought I was listening to a heavenly madrigal by some kind of latter-day Monteverdi!”
I revised the work in 1998 for the Prague-based ladies’ choir Charmone and their regular harpist. The result sounds lighter and breezier than the original so I decided to publish it in that form. I infer from sales records that it has since been performed in the USA.