Music for the Dedication of St James’ Church — October 1, 2023

St Aidan’s Prayer – Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968)

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Composer Roxanna Panufnik is, as they say, having a moment. She was commissioned by King Charles III to write Coronation Sanctus for his coronation in May 2023. Imminent premieres include a BBC Proms and VOCES8 — for whom she is composer-in-residence — co-commission Floral Tribute (in memory of Queen Elizabeth II), a song cycle Gallery of Memories, co-commissioned by the Oxford Lieder and Presteigne Festivals (for whom she is also the 2023 composer-in-residence), and choral pieces for The Exultate Singers. Panufnik is especially interested in building musical bridges between faiths, and her first project in this regard was the violin concerto Abraham, commissioned for Daniel Hope, incorporating Christian, Islamic and Jewish chant to create a musical analogy for the fact that these three faiths believe in the same one God.

Panufnik wrote St Aidan’s Prayer, this Sunday’s communion motet in church, in 2016 as an 80th birthday gift for her godfather, the Polish artist Andrzej Dzierzyński. He lives part of the time in Italy and therefore Panufnik decided to set the words of St Aidan of Lindisfarne in both English and Italian. It was first performed by the choir of the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Chelsea, in December 2016, with Panufnik’s chorister son, Benedict Macklow-Smith, the treble soloist. ‘I’ll never forget Uncle Andrzej’s face when he saw Ben singing,’ Panufnik says.

Bless O Lord, this place,
This Holy Place.
Make it a place of joy and light
Make it a place of holiness and hospitality
Make it a place of grace and goodness
And begin with me.

Gerald Harder