This setting joins several other works of mine which make use of the poetry of New Zealand poet Robin Hyde, including Paraha for choir brass and organ (1990), Meditation on ‘The Bronze Rider’ for carillon (1990), Road’s End for SSAA choir (1993) and Tryst for choir and jazz trio (1997). Robin Hyde was the pen-name of Iris Guiver Wilkinson (1906-1939). During her brief life she worked as a journalist, novelist and poet, making her living from writing – something very unusual for a woman in those days. She was constantly dogged by ill-health, and after an ill-fated visit to China in 1938 travelled on to England where depression and illness overcame her. She committed suicide the following year.
Prayer of a Woman is a relatively late poem, dating from the last couple of years of Hyde’s life.
This work was written for Mirinesse Women’s Choir of Seattle in the USA, and is dedicated to the choir and conductor Rebecca Rottsolk. The unusual scoring was prompted by the Brahms choral piece for the same forces being programmed.