for SATB and orchestra
This three movement work was premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in 1951 by a massed choir of 1150 school students under the direction of Sir Adrian Boult and accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Vaughan Williams made no concession to the youth of his singers, producing a powerful work that moves between musical darkness and light. The poems are by Ursula Wood, who later became the composer's wife, and are titled 'Darkness and Light', 'The Song of the Zodiac', and 'The Messengers of
Speech'. Music from the work was later adapted into the song cycle Sun, Moon, Stars, and Man.
Orchestral materials for both the original full orchestra accompaniment and a simplified orchestral accompaniment are available on hire.
Vaughan Williams has come to be regarded as one of the finest British composers of the 20th century. He has a particularly wide-ranging catalogue of works, including choral works, symphonies, concerti, and opera. His searching and visionary imagination, combined with a flexibility in writing for all levels of music-making, has meant that his music is as popular today as it ever has been.