composition

Winter Solace

for Soprano and Piano

  • Genre
    Vocal
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Dennis and Holly Schell
  • Year completed
    2001
  • Year revised
  • Timing
    10:00
  • Catalog number
    174
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  • copies sold
  • 4
    known performances
  • General notes
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Winter Solace is a Song Cycle I wrote in memory of the three children of Dennis and Holly Schell. All three of them died at a young age from a Leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder, leaving their parents childless. As Christians, though, they look forward to being reuinted with their children in eternity. This cycle sets poems by five poets. The first three are favorite poems of the Schells, who found them to be of comfort during the trying ordeal of having three chilrden, each of whom had a death sentence hanging over him or her from birth (their longest-lived child, Jamison, lived only to the age of 12). The fourth poem was commissioned by me from my niece, Rebekah Howell Bambenek, and I myself added the final poem to close the cycle, something I first did in my choral cycle, Spring Reveries, of which the present work can be considered some kind of companion piece. The first poem, Out in the Fields with God, by Louise Imogen Guiney, describes a person who casts the small everyday cares away, aware of the bigger picture of God as the Sovereign over the universe. Following is Emily Brontë's Stanzas, which deals with a person facing the realization of the inevitability of death of a loved one, and longing to join that person in eternal rest. Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard compares the faith of a believer with the security of following the four-legged hart on treacherous mountain surfaces. Rebecca Bambenek's Winter Agony: Justice Divided examines the anger that even the most devout Christian sometimes experiences towards God, and ultimately a plea from the person so tormented for life itself. In my closing The Death of the First-Born, I attempted to bring the cycle full-circle through the tormened individual of the fourth poem coming to the point of realization that peace and solace can only come from letting go of one's own thoughts and desires and subordinating them to the divine will of the supreme Creator of the universe. The very title of this song looks the the heavenly Father having given the believer hope by his prior giving up of his beloved Son for the atonement of the sins who would place their trust in him, a conviction most precious to both the Schells and me myself.

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