Notes on Laudis Corona
The challenge of setting these texts to new music was to respect the piety and devotion of the authors but at the same time to recognize the way that Christianity has changed and with it, the language used to express religious devotion. "And thou, dark fiend, six thousand years / The bride of Christ in vain tormenting, / Shall find our hate and scorn of thee / Deep as thine own, and unrelenting" Give that to your first-grade Sunday School Class!
These Hymn texts were written at a time when lofty language was the tradition. The composer has striven for settings which revel in the archaic phrases which sound purple to our ears but at the same time can be deeply moving. From the 146 hymns in Laudis Corona, three were painstakingly chosen. "Glorious Mother" was irresistible for the line, "Earth is darksome, we are weary, / Satan setteth snares for all."
Many of the major religious denominations published new hymnals in the 1980s and 1990s. Gender-exclusive language was revised, obsolete words and usages were updated to modern English, and some hymns with controversial subjects were taken out altogether. Such was the fate, for example, of "Onward, Christian Soldiers" in the Methodist hymnal, whose chorus reads: "Onward, Christian soldiers, / Marching as to war, / With the cross of Jesus / Going on before." Compared with "Christians! To the War!", those words are quite tame.
The text "Oh Beautiful Thou Art" is not attributed to an author; it seems to be a poetic English rendition of the traditional "Ave Maria" text. The new setting reflects the heartfelt devotion intended by the author.
The work was premiered by Rachel Barham and Deke Polifka. The MP3 recording is of their second performance recorded on September 27, 2004.
Two of the songs in this set won prizes at the 2005 Diana Barnhart American Song Conference. "Christians to the War" took first prize in the American Song Competition, while �Glorious Mother� took first prize in the Susan Galloway Sacred Song Award.