May the Angels of God
Watch Over You
Composer William Bradley Roberts
Text Shannon Johnston
Voicing SAB, keyboard
Length 2' 45" Price $1.65 (U.S.) Released 7/02
Catalog no. 410-138 Difficulty Mod. easy
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"This anthem was commissioned by Ellen Johnston for her husband on the occasion of a birthday and was read at the 2002 AAM Conference in Jackson. . . it is a wonderful expression of Ellen's love for her husband. Bill Roberts was commissioned to set this text and he has done so with remarkable sensitivity. The original motif reappears during the course of the anthem--almost like a hymn tune or theme. Since it is relatively new, I experienced it at the Conference and was moved by its grace and simplicity." --Gustav Bittrich, AAM Journal, December 2002
"This SAB anthem was commissioned for the 40th birthday of the author of the text, the Rev'd Shannon Johnston. While the poetry is a two-stanza blessing or benediction, the anthem is three stanzas in length. Bill chose to repeat the text of the first stanza, and to add interest by supplying a tuneful melody and varying both the melodic part and the accompanying harmony and counterpoint. He employs the pattern of four four-measure phrases that begin with two unison phrases, followed by two phrases in a three-part choral texture. In the first stanza the sopranos and altos sing in unison. The baritones open the second stanza in unison, and all three voices begin the third stanza in unison. Because the three stanzas share the same melodic and harmonic material, the highly colorful, almost pentatonic accompaniment is repeated exactly. This work is a beautiful setting of words that impart a touching blessing." --Dr. Donald Cox, The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians (April 2005)
"William Bradley Robert's 'May the Angels of God watch over you' is, indeed, a fine blessing in the Celtic tradition. It may turn out that its best use will be at funerals and memorials. Nicely written for SAB, the narrowing of the scoring might accurately fit the reduced circumstances at a funeral. This composition might come in handy if a director had been so wise as to previously use it at a prayerful moment within a Eucharistic liturgy, as the notes would have already been learned. The deceased would be pleased." --AAM Journal, December 2005
This touching benediction is scored for SAB voices and set in the unlikely key of F minor, which imparts a warmth and depth to the words, sometimes lacking in choral benedictions. An optional cut allows for longer or shorter version of the piece to be performed, as circumstances permit.
May the Angels of God watch over you;
may the love of God enfold you;
may all the saints in heaven and on earth
pray with you and for you.
Through the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord
and the blessing of God Almighty
the Father, the Son, Holy Spirit be on you
and remain with you for ever. Amen.
© 2002 Selah Publishing Co., Inc.