Rise up, my love, my fair one – Healey Willan (1880-1968)
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“Music has been my chief delight,” Healey Willan once said, “and if at any time I have been able to share this delight with others, I am content.” During the course of a career of more than eighty years, Willan did indeed share his love of music with countless performers, parishioners, students and other lovers of music. Willan composed much of his liturgical music for the Anglican Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, where he served from 1921 until his death.
Rise up, my love, my fair one, this Sunday’s communion motet in church, is intended for Easter and feasts of Our Lady. Willan uses sevenths and inverted triads to avoid the stability of root position chords and propels this exquisitely beautiful piece, with its irresistible text from the Song of Solomon describing the flowers appearing and the time of the singing of birds, to its remarkably gentle concluding invitation to “come away.”
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away;
for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear upon the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come;
arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.