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Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence is based on the traditional text and the Picardy hymn tune for SATB (a cappella) choir, and is suitable for concert choirs and church choirs.
The traditional hymn is by Gerard Moultie (1829-1885), based upon the third-century Divine Liturgy of St. James.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
The program note by Gary D. Cannon from the premiere:
Fraley imbues his compositions with formal structure, motivic unity, and harmonic consistency. His arrangement of the seventeenth-century hymn tune known as Picardy was written for the choir at the Church of the Holy Cross in Redmond. The first verse is intoned by a soloist over a meditative, medieval-like figure in the men’s voices. The third verse is especially notable for two elements of text-painting: Fraley depicts the “rank on rank [of] the host of heaven” with four-part canon, and “the darkness clears away” as each part arrives at silence. The basses sing the tune in augmentation (i.e., longer note values) for the final verse, aptly depicting the grandeur of “the six-winged seraph.” The choir’s final unison recalls the medieval darkness of the start.
Fraley imbues his compositions with formal structure, motivic unity, and harmonic consistency.