There Is No Rose of Such Virtue

(there is no rose of swych vertu)
Composed by Ian Daavid Coleman
Series Editor: Simon Carrington
Voicing: SATB a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 1040
Price: $2.20

There is no rose of such virtue
(Ther is no rose of swych vertu)

I have always loved this great old English text. Throughout its long history, English as a language has grown richer by incorporating words from the various other languages that have found their way to the United Kingdom and Ireland. It seems to me that this text, with its blending of old English and elements of Latin, reflects that very process in which sacred and secular collide, cultures clash and synthesize.

In my setting of this text I have taken a fairly direct strophic approach. However, where appropriate, I have tried subtly to reflect the text: for example in the close, tighter harmonies throughout the choir on the words For in this Rose contained was heaven and earth in little space. I wanted to reflect in that intense, fairly dissonant chord the concept of a ‘little space’ containing a great joy. This joy bursts forth in the next section and is ultimately realized at the conclusion. This setting has an overarching form: one of growth, from the quiet reflective and almost mystical opening, to the final joyous and vibrant flourish.

The Latin used in this text can be translated as follows:

Gaudeamus ‘let us rejoice’

Res Miranda ‘a wonderful thing’

Pares forma ‘of the same form’

Transeamus ‘let us go’

Ian David Coleman

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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