Commissioned by the Schola Cantorum of Dunedin to celebrate its 125th Jubilee in 1988, this work for for soprano soloist, mixed choir and orchestra sets the first part of S. Francesco d’Assisi’s Canticle of Brother Sun.
The Canticle is an expression of the medieval belief in the beauty, goodness and intelligibility of the created world. It is also an expression of Francis’s own idea of all creation living in a spirit of fraternity and community. This vision of the total reconciliation of humanity with the universe is symbolized in a number of ways. One such is the ordering of the elements in pairs, which combine the masculine and feminine: sun-moon, wind-water, fire-earth.
In this setting, the soprano soloist represents the feminine principle, and the choir the masculine. A version of the work has been arranged for a smaller orchestra, with organ replacing the strings. The work has been described by one critic as “one of the most exciting and satisfying works for choir and orchestra by a New Zealander”, and by another as a work which “will undoubtedly continue to be performed regularly on account of its accessibility and performability”.