from O Great Beyond
SATB divisi, soprano solo | Duration c. 5'00”
In Silence is the third movement of O Great Beyond, a work based on the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and commissioned by the John Armitage Memorial for Nicholas Cleobury and the BBC Singers. This edition has been altered slightly for performance on its own. In the original work, the three movements flow seamlessly together into a broad narrative of new love, restless interest in the unknown, and, ultimately, a farewell to a love once known. As a stand-alone work, In Silence is separated from this narrative, and instead focuses on the final act of parting. Tagore’s poetry expresses the desire for a “beautiful end,” in which the moment of farewell is one marked by peace and silence. Though the work does find this peace in the end, it first passes through the realization that the last moments one shares with another person are rarely “gentle like the flower of the night.” Contradictory to Tagore’s sentiment, the music grows in intensity and culminates in a passionate statement of love and loss, willing these final moments to “stand still.” It is only after this statement that the work folds into silence, finding completeness in a simple act of respect and deference: “I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.”
This special edition of In Silence, published by GIA Publications, is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Flummerfelt.
Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.
From The Gardener, Rabindranath Tagore