My Eyes for Beauty Pine Elizabeth Coxhead/Thomas Coxhead
Elizabeth Coxhead/Thomas Coxhead Text Robert Bridges
Voicing SATB, organ Topics Epiphany Lectionary usage Epiphany Price $2.00 (U.S.) Length 2' 15" Released 1/2020 Catalog no. 405-316 Difficulty Mod. easy
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This exquisite motet by sister and brother duo Elizabeth and Thomas Coxhead has already seen many performances and is sure to become a favorite of many choirs. The music is simple and lyrical, supporting Robert Bridges’s beautiful words that celebrate God as the giver of all love.
Text My eyes for beauty pine,
My soul for Goddës grace:
No other care nor hope is mine,
To heaven I turn my face.
One splendour thence is shed
From all the stars above:
’Tis named when God’s name is said,
’Tis Love, ’tis heavenly Love.
And every gentle heart,
That burns with true desire,
Is lit from eyes that mirror part
Of that celestial fire.
--Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
Given the governing emphasis of the choral series, Elizabeth Coxhead is highlighted as the composer, yet her brother, Tomas Coxhead, is also listed as co-composer on the cover and at the top of the music. Interestingly, however, only Elizabeth's birth date is given. It is thus unclear what role the brother had in the creation of this setting of Robert Bridges' familiar words. [It was composed jointly, with melody originated by Elizabeth.] The homophonic choral hymn is entirely diatonic and within the expected tendencies of tonal harmony, yet the tendency toward plagal cadences, the suppression of dominant harmonies, and effective use of chord inversions combine to create a breezy, fresh musical landscape. The first stanza of poetry is repeated without any changes in musical setting between the second and third stanzas, yielding an ABAC form. The soprano solo appears throughout the setting of the third poetic stanza. Tenors and sopranos divide for the final three-bar phrase, with a peculiar yet effective voice leading for the tenors. No other part divisions appear, and ranges are modest throughout. The work is of only moderate difficulty, making this expressive setting a worthwhile addition to any choral library." -AAM Journal, March 2020
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