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Royal wedding: William and Kate's music coming soon to a choir near you

May 1, 2011 |  7:00 am

Kiss Mere hours after William and Kate said "I will" on Friday morning, copies of Kate's wedding dress and flowers appeared in shop windows across the country. Although less immediate, the wedding music also has a knock-on effect.

Crimond, the obscure Scottish melody for "The Lord's My Shepherd" chosen by Queen Elizabeth for her wedding in 1947, has since become the hymn's standard tune. As such, the new anthem and motet sung at William and Kate's wedding most certainly will be appearing shortly in choir folios around the world.

John Rutter "This is the day which Lord hath made" (2011)

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Commissioned especially for the wedding by the Dean of Westminster (essentially Westminster Abbey's head priest), this piece is pure Rutter from the first notes. If you're a choral singer, this is great news. Rutter has a gift for melody and is enormously popular with singers, especially in the United States. Non-singers and Anglican church musicians are more ambivalent, tending to be less impressed by the stock gestures and the propensity for cheese typical of his work.

Listen asthe choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal at St. James' Palace give the premiere performance at the wedding.


Paul Mealor "Ubi Caritas et Amor" (2011)

Publisher: University of York Music Press

This refashioning of Mealor's 2010 composition "Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal"was commissioned by Prince William. The piece is lovely in itself, but there were extra-musical reasons to include it in the ceremony too. Mealor is Welsh (when Charles ascends the throne, William will become the Prince of Wales), has a home on Anglesey (the Welsh island where William and Kate will be living for the next few years) and the original song cycle was premiered at St. Andrews, the university where the couple met.

Largely unknown outside the Anglican church music world, Mealor will find his star rising considerably after this debut on the world stage. He teaches composition at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Mealor's aesthetic is similar to that of composer Eric Whitacre, featuring the same open tone clusters, extended chords, slow-moving harmonic changes and divisi voicing. These techniques minimize any sense of a home key, which creates a sort of ethereal dissonance that doesn't feel as if it needs resolving. In this idiom, the color of the sound is more important than the shape of it, meaning there is no big tune.

Nerd Note: The treble solo at the end seems to be a nod to the more famous setting of the Ubi caritas text by Maurice Duruflé.

Here again are the two choirs from the wedding:



Royal wedding: What the music says about William and Kate

-- Marcia Adair


Photo: The royal kiss. Credit: Associated Press.

Comments () | Archives (8)

Crimond is far from obscure. It is the most popular melody for this hymn in England!

John Rutter may not be as accomplished a composer, but I think his new, lilting rendition of "This Is The Day The Hath Made" is very pretty, and I'm going to see if I can obtain a copy of the sheet music for my own future reference. (I don't care that the British composers community scoffs at Ruther's "cheesiness"..........I've had 2 years of private vocal training, and sang 1st Soprano in my church choir for 20 years [quitting only due to a new choir director changing choir practice to a day not convenient for me, and the fact that I can hardly understand his VERY broken English] , plus I have a natural ear for music -- but I still VERY MUCH like Rutter's version).

I would enjoy hearing this music again .........at other weddings here in the U.S.

Nerdier nerd note: The treble solo at the end, and Durufle's setting both use the old chant melody of "Ubi Caritas," so that this is not really a reference to the Durufle, but rather a piece of church music that incorporates the traditional chant setting of the text.

I have to completely disagree with this report. As a choral scholar myself I am among a large number of singers who cannot stand Rutter's music. Completely unfulfilling and lacking any compositional technique, it is only really the slight change in melody (and obviously text) which sets any of his music apart. There are no wonderful moments of colouristic writing that we can see in every other composer featured in the wedding service. It is for that reason I dislike his music!

And as the fairy tale of the modern century takes on another side bite one ought to remember one has little time to inquire about the injustices of the British court, sovereignty or at the very least its instigation’s- the list is long- but I could suggest at the tip of blink- Afghanistan, the latest bonfire in Libya (to of course liberate the rebels- never mind the rebels of Palestine, Syria or Bahrain who must keep their lips shut tight), Iraq and of course let us not forget the injustices/terrorism purged on the Irish and a handful of African states and that old colonial post India.

All wonderful things to commemorate as Prince William and his bride take on their turn in upholding pomp, pageantry and the callous history that makes the British empire and orchestrated photo ops.

Nevertheless we will continue to love our royals and those neatly made cucumber sandwiches...


@Scott -- it's a pleasure to be out-nerded. Thanks for the tip!

Rutter: Music is a personal taste; you may love one composer, and hate another. Best advice, don't inflict your musical preference on others.....(no one needs to know what is on your Ipod! )

I've seen no comment yet about the Parry Blest Pair of Sirens sung at the signing of the register. It was beautifully performed and is a wonderful piece, the text of which is about music itself. So I hope it too will be performed more widely, though it is long and really requires an orchestra. As a church organist myself, I probably should work up a good organ version of I was Glad!


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