The Heart of the Eternal


Voice: Baritone [D3-F4] and piano; Time: 3:50; Tempo: Freely, flowing (q = 76); Language: English; Dedicated to the memory of Hugh O’Reilly, a good and kind man, by Ingrid Sacknowitz [Recording by Bryce Hayes & Philip Orr]

Written at a period when I was immersed in the works of Jason Robert Brown, Adam Guettel, Stephen Sondheim and other contemporary musical theater composers, “The Heart of the Eternal” is a recasting of “Souls of men, why will ye scatter” by the prominent Oxford Movement hymnist, Frederick William Faber (1814-1863). (This text enjoyed, and continues to enjoy, greater popularity in the version beginning with the second stanza, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.”) In addition to retuning some words for modern ears and rearranging some stanzas for narrative force toward the intended commission (for a memorial service), the major reworking is in the adoption of contemporary music language and verse-and-refrain song form to capture the warmth and fervent love for Faber’s hearers in his earnest invitation.