When setting Sweet Mercy!, I heard in the language and rhythm of the poem the sound of missionary-influenced, island-style singing, along with a distinct gospel music sound.
Sweet Mercy! soothing, patient, mild, and kind
Softens the high and lifts the fallen mind
Knows with just rein, and even hand to guide
Between false fear, and arbitrary pride
Not easily provoked, and soon forgives
Feels love for all, and by a look relieves
Soft peace she brings where e’er she arrives
Removes our anguish and reforms our lives
Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even
And opens in each heart a little heaven.
[Attr. to Catherine McAuley (1778–1841), Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy.]
Formally, my setting exhibits a rondo-type design with the opening lines of the poem presented at the beginning, middle and end of the piece.
I sincerely thank Ars Musica Australis for commissioning the work and express my gratitude to Our Lady of Mercy College Music Co-ordinator, Mr Paul Witney and to the College’s choristers for affording the work its world premiere performance.
SUNDAY 1 MARCH 2015 (9:30AM & 11:00AM Central Time Zone Texas, USA).
Sweet Mercy! (for a cappella SSA choir)
Performers: Choristers of St Andrew UMC, Plano, Texas.
Venue: St Andrew UMC, Plano, Texas, USA.