WE ARE BUT DUST Motet for unaccompanied 8-part choir
© This work and publication are copyright Philip Lancaster, 2017. All rights reserved. The Maker’s Press. ISMN: 979-0-708073-05-5 www.philiplancaster.com Duration: ca.6’30 The text of the motet, collated by the composer, is given on the inside rear cover. All texts are out of copyright.
Composer’s Note The quasi-narrative of this motet is as follows: Humankind, realises, and sings of, its frailty. A Voice of Eternity affirms this frailty in a declaration of our mortality and impermanence versus its own longevity. Mankind makes petition to that Voice of Eternity, asking not to be consumed nor forgotten. And so the stars were created, to give hope and aspiration to humankind; to bind us from falling into an abyss of hopelessness, granting a glimpse, and hope, of Eternity. In the light of that hope, the opening acknowledgement of our frailty is sung more warmly, accepting at the end with a lesser concern that We are but Dust. * * *
All notes, including quavers and dots, should be given their full duration, releasing the note and placing consonants on the rest that follows. Although this work is not strictly for ‘double’ choir, if practicable the 1st and 2nd parts of the choir should be divided in order to achieve a spatial dialogue; as a single body, but divided within — e.g. S1A1 T1 B1 B2 T2A2 S2 — with basses together in the centre for coherence in the framing plainsong. This motet is aimed at chamber choirs of very good amateur or semi-/professional standing. Whilst the individual vocal lines should be readily singable, the way in which they come together demands singers who are confident in maintaining their part. PGL, xi.2017
We are but dust. The days of Man are but as grass: for he flourisheth as a flower of the field. For as soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone: and the place thereof shall know it no more. “ ’Tis but a moment since man’s birth, And in another moment more Man lies in earth For ever; but I am the same Now, and shall be, even as I was Before he came: Till there is nothing I shall be.” Consume me not away, though I have sinned, tho’ I have rebelled. Make me not like the things forgotten as they had not been. Make me not the thing that loveth thee a tear wiped away. Thus were the stars of heaven created like a golden chain To bind the Body of Man to heaven from falling into the Abyss.
Psalm 103, vv.14-16 Edward Thomas,‘The Mountain Chapel’, ll.10-16 William Blake, lines from ‘Vala’ or ‘The Four Zoas’, Night the Third & Night the Second
We are but Dust (motet)
Motet for unaccompanied 8-part choir © Philip Lancaster, 2017.