St Michael’s Church in Remuera (Auckland ) is one of the finest acoustics in the city for choral music. When I heard Viva Voce was presenting a concert of “heavenly music” there as the choir’s final concert for 2011, I offered to write a new piece. My earliest regularly performed work,“Lux Aeterna was already scheduled for the programme, so I felt this would make a nice comparison of works written 32 years apart. Conductor John Rosser readily agreed to the idea.
Angele Dei is a text traditionally attributed to St Anselm (c.1033-1109) although it is now believed to have been added to his works after his death probably in the 11th or 12th centuries. It is a brief prayer to a guardian angel – one who is charged with protecting against the assaults of demons, that might lead one into sin.
The piece is full of warm rich choral textures, beginning with the women’s voices descending in a scale-like passage which repeats several times against simple tonal chords in the men’s voices. The build to the climax uses textures reminiscent of Renaissance composers, featuring a string of suspensions in the harmony. The work ends quietly with an Amen section and final statement of the title.