George Lloyd: A Litany



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George Lloyd Writes: John Donne's 'A Litany' has twenty eight verses; of these I have used only twelve. It is a curious poem and because of some unevenness it tends to be disregarded by lovers of the poet; and yet, there are some wonderfully evocative lines and some thoghts that can astonish.

I have divided the twelve verses that I have used into four separate movements. The first is a dramatic adagio for the solo baritone and chorus (verses 1 & 2). The second starts quickly for the baritone and chorus (verse 3) but is interrupted by a quiet section for the solo soprano (verse 4). These two ideas are then developed with the chorus joining in. The Third movement, for unaccompanied chorus, is a quiet song of thanks to the Virgin (verse 5). The Finale (verses 6 to 12) is the most extended of all, going through a variety of moods, some violent, some despairing. In soite of John Donne's catalogue of human frailties and disaters there are verses in the poem that give some hope, and these are the verses I have used to end the work.


“'A Litany' celebrates the English choral tradition as confidently as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams” The Financial Times


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