Patronal Festival: Choral Eucharist – St Bride
Setting: Missa brevis ‘Awake my soul’ – Judith Bingham
Sermon: The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce, Rector of St Bride’s
Anthem: O quam gloriosum – Tomás Luis de Victoria
Organ Voluntary: Prelude and Fugue in B major Op 7 – Marcel Dupré
Missa Brevis ‘Awake my soul’ – Judith Bingham OBE (b. 1952) [performed in church only]
Matthew Morley, who directs this service, writes:
The Missa Brevis ‘Awake my soul’ was written in 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the reconsecration of St Peter and St Paul’s parish church in Bromley following its rebuilding, ‘phoenix-like’, from destruction during the 1941 Blitz. The mass-setting (which we’ve not performed before) has simple and inventive choral writing – Bingham also being an experienced composer for the organ gives it a vital and prominent role (played today by Ben Frost) – overall the work is reflective, with textures designed to illuminate rather than declaim.
‘I wanted the dramatic progression of the Mass to be about rebuilding’, notes the composer – the Gloria unfolding from the ‘decision to rebuild – a sense of renewed hope’, while the Sanctus (with the words of the Benedictus almost subsumed) enshrining the solemnity of the new church’s consecration.
That Bromley Parish Church suffered the same fate (some four months later) as St Bride’s and is dedicated to St Peter and St Paul (whose statue watches over us) seemed to me a nice symmetry, and I felt it important for our Patronal service of St Brigid that we include music written by one of our foremost living female composers.
Judith Bingham (composer, Missa Brevis ‘Awake my soul’)
Born in Nottingham, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, Judith Bingham began composing as a small child, before studying composition and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A professional singer for many years (including as a member of the BBC Singers) choral writing was at the core of her early output, with many commissions and performances for some of our best-known choral ensembles including the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and King’s College, Cambridge and many of our cathedrals and colleges. Latterly she has gained a great reputation for the range and scope of her compositions for other ensembles and instruments – brass bands, symphonic wind ensemble, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as an oboe concerto first performed here at St Bride’s in 2014 (commissioned by Edward Armitage and John Armitage Memorial Trust).
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