This work was written to commemorate the centenary of the 1914-1918 Great War and it is scored (in full) for baritone soloist, SATB chorus and orchestra (2122:4221: timp : harp : strings). A two-piano accompaniment is also available for smaller choral groups. The file displayed here is for voices and piano accompaniment, the latter being for rehearsal purposes only as it is an approximate transcription of the full orchestral score. The MP3 samples are of the full orchestral score, as follows : - "But Secretly We Thirst" bars 44-67 ; "The Dead" bars 241-278; "The Soldier" bars 279-298 ; "Rendezvous" bars 381-401 ; "Dulce et Decorum Est" bars 499-530 & 596-603 ; "In Flanders Fields" & "Worship" bars 730 - the end. (N.B. the download of these samples may take several seconds - please be patient.)
The poetry which forms the libretto is the work of the following poets - Herman Hesse, Rupert Brooke, Alan Seeger, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and John McCrae. The ‘thread’ or ‘story’ of this musical offering seeks to describe and reflect (a) the patriotism and the appetite for adventure at the beginning of the war in 1914, (b) the subsequent despair and disillusionment after experiencing the horror of the war, and moving finally and inevitably to (c) the reason why we should still remember those who lost their lives during that conflict and, by extension, in the wars that have followed.
The message of this work contains a special significance or resonance for all those affected by any conflict or war, especially the current situation in Ukraine (February 2022). The ending of "Flanders Fields" has these words - "Take up our quarrel with the foe; To you, from failing hands, we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields."
The premiere performance of "Sacrifices", given by Ripon Choral Society on Saturday 15th November 2014 in Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire, under the direction of John Dunford, was hugely successful, with a standing ovation from a full house. Many in the audience and in the choir were moved to tears.
One year later, Tadchorale, of Tadcaster in Yorkshire, gave the first performances (three in Remembrance Week) of the version with two-piano accompaniment.
Wetherby Choral Society also gave a performance of this work, with orchestral accompaniment in Wetherby Parish Church in November 2016.
You can obtain a free copy of the libretto and a more detailed explanation of the work by contacting the composer using the email link at the bottom of this page.
If you’re planning a performance, rehearsal materials (full score and orchestral parts or, alternatively, double piano accompaniment) can be obtained by using the same email link.
Reviews of Sacrifices (for SATB chorus & orchestra or 2-piano accompaniment)
On 15th November 2014, in Ripon Cathedral, the premier of a nine-section secular oratorio-type composition by Patrick Lee was given by The Ripon Choral Society under the direction of John Dunford. This 35 minute choral work, which is designed to commemorate the centenary of World War 1, is entitled “Sacrifices” and it is scored for Baritone soloist, SATB choir and an orchestra similar to that used by Mozart for his Requiem Mass (which comprised the second half of the concert). It sets to music First World War poetry by Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, John McCrae, Alan Seeger and Isaac Rosenberg as well as the 1964 Nobel Literature Prize winner, Herman Hesse. The musical sections are interspersed with extracts, for a narrator, originally written by soldiers who fought and died in that conflict.
One is used to thinking of premier performances in terms of esoteric, difficult to understand music. Nothing could be further from the truth here. Patrick Lee uses traditional harmonies and rhythms in his own, contemporary style and the music serves the poetry brilliantly. As the work proceeds, it gains in emotional power; by the end of the performance the dramatic intensity was such that there were not too many dry eyes in the house. Even some of the choir members, who have been rehearsing the work for seven weeks, found it difficult to get through to the end without, at least, a lump in the throat; such is the depth of feeling generated by this work.
Those who attended the performance, whether as participants or listeners, agreed that this work was thoroughly enjoyable and recommendable to both professional and amateur choirs and orchestras. A very high standard of performance was attained by all involved. It was indeed a privilege to have witnessed the premiere of this composition.