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An invitation to compose a piece for St. Cecilia's day ... what to write? I consult my Calendar of Saints and read, "St Cecilia, virgin and martyr, date unknown, Roman Christan girl, is said to have converted her husband on their wedding night. At her wedding, says the earliest written account, Cecilia sang to the Lord with all her heart. During the middle ages ... Cecilia became the patron saint of musicians."
And so it seems it was the beauty of Cecilia's singing at her wedding that won over her husband, and laid the ground for her becoming the patron saint of music. And so for a text I extracted from that most sensuous of Biblical songs, the Song of Songs, and for musical inspiration looked to the melodies of Hildegard von Bingen, who in a sense is another kind of patron saint of music.
– Jack Body, 1996
Composed for Cantoris at the invitation of Peter Godfrey
Extracted from 'Song of Songs' from the Bible
22 Mar 1996: Performed by Bel Canto Vocal Ensemble conducted by Peter Walls at St Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington as part of the 1996 NZ International Festival of the Arts.