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Sudden Light

for mixed-voice choir and piano

  ·  Duration:  2m 30s
Instrumentation:  SATB choir, piano

Duration:  2m 30s
Instrumentation  SATB choir, piano

David Hamilton

Composer:   David Hamilton


Sudden Light was written by Pre-Raphaelite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) in the early 1850s. Sudden Light describes a speaker’s moments of recollection when faced with an emotional scene involving someone he loves.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that he knows he has “been here before.” By the end of the first stanza, it is clear that “here” is in a house near the ocean. The sights, sounds, and smells of the scene reminded him of something he can’t quite place. He concludes that he has lived this moment before alongside the intended listener of ‘Sudden Light’.
In the second stanza, he describes two moments that happen simultaneously. These are the flight of a swallow and the turning of his listener’s neck. They confirm to him that yes, he has seen these sights and felt these same feelings before.
In the final lines, he turns to his listener and asks, mostly rhetorically, if it is possible for their love to overcome death. He feels the two have a connection that could last beyond day and night, or life and death.

Dedication note

Dedicated to Pakuranga Choral Society and to conductor David Gordon.

Contents note

The score is available from the composer (contact