How heavy lies the heart

Sincere thanks to Matthew Curtis ( for this recording. For song description and sheet music, see below.

Description: “How heavy lies the heart” has drawn inspiration from the traditional French Christmas carol, “Quelle est cette odeur agréable”, which John Gay also set as a boisterous drinking song in the Beggar’s Opera, “Fill every glass, for wine inspires us!” The song also draws inspiration from Josquin’s Missa Pange Lingua. I dedicate this piece to my friends in the composer/singer collective, the Ad hoc Chorale, who tested out this piece in one of our informal workshops and offered valuable comments.

Optional endings. Note that choirs have been given the option to choose which of the 3 endings they would like to sing, depending on how they feel the “story line” in the song should best reach its conclusion:

  1. The “happy” ending appears to indicate that the narrator has been reunited with the friend or lover who departed.
  2. The first “unresolved” ending plants a seed of doubt that no such reunion has happened; it may be in the narrator’s head.
  3. The second “unresolved” ending leaves listeners in even more doubt.

NB: One day I woke up to the realization that I had independently written four choral works, each of which had evoked a different season, and so it seemed natural to group them together into a choral suite that I have called The Ottawa Four Seasons Suite. “How heavy lies the heart” seemed to work perfectly as the musical representative of an autumnal spirit.

Sheet music (SATB div.):