John McCabe: Woefully Arrayed for Twelve Voices

Books | SATB

Catalogue No: NOV500995
Composer: John McCabe
Format: Sheet Music | Vocal Work
Arranged for SSSAAATTTBBB, the lyrics are from an anonymous writer of the fourteenth century and have been adapted by the composer.

The composer says: "Woefully arrayed is a supreme choral setting by William Cornysh, Junior, who died in 1523, of a text usually regarded as of anonymous composition, though there have been some attributions to John Skelton. It is a thoughtful, powerful meditation on Christ on the Cross, and though Cornysh’s setting has remarkable intensity and contrapuntal artistry, I felt a strong wish to add my own response to this fine text. The different versions of it have different verses – that used by Cornysh has three verses (plus the refrain), while there are others with four or even five (one attributed to Skelton has five). I have chosen to restrict myself to the three used by Cornysh, using my own adaptation of the modernised words which yet incorporates some archaisms – a deliberate choice for reasons of rhythm and verbal sound. This setting was commissioned by the Three Choirs Festival 2009, for Stile Antico, to whom it is dedicated."


"Difficult to perform but not difficult to listen to, this 2009 Three Choirs Festival commission was first performed by Stile Antico who have since toured it. It is a heartfelt response to the fourteenth-century text – passionate and anguished, Christ is on the cross, ‘woefully arrayed’. Although written for a secular choir it is a piece that could be sung by many cathedral and collegiate choirs: there is considerable doubling between the sixteen lines, and a keyboard reduction to help the initial sorting out. Above all it is dramatic and would communicate directly to audiences if given a chance to hear it."
     - James L Montgomer, RSCM review
Published on: 15 July 2010
No of pages: 40
Length: 10
Language: English
Publisher: Novello & Co Ltd.