Works

The Deer's Cry

2007

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) a cappella

Duration

5 min

Short description

The choral piece The Deer’s Cry was composed in 2007 on commission from the Louth Contemporary Music Society. Pärt built his piece on a passage from a 5th century text allegedly written by Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was the one who brought Christianity to Ireland, and is acknowledged as a saint by all Christian Churches. Historians and theologians have called him the Apostle of Ireland for his long and exceptionally intense missionary work.

There is a legend about The Deer’s Cry, the holy lorica* or the breastplate prayer, telling the story of Saint Patrick who, knowing that he and his accompanying monks were being ambushed and likely killed, led his men through the woods reciting that prayer. The enemies saw them in t…

The choral piece The Deer’s Cry was composed in 2007 on commission from the Louth Contemporary Music Society. Pärt built his piece on a passage from a 5th century text allegedly written by Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was the one who brought Christianity to Ireland, and is acknowledged as a saint by all Christian Churches. Historians and theologians have called him the Apostle of Ireland for his long and exceptionally intense missionary work.

There is a legend about The Deer’s Cry, the holy lorica* or the breastplate prayer, telling the story of Saint Patrick who, knowing that he and his accompanying monks were being ambushed and likely killed, led his men through the woods reciting that prayer. The enemies saw them in the woods as a mother deer with calves, and Saint Patrick and his men were thus saved.

Just as in several of his choral pieces from the first decade of the 21st century, here too Pärt has distanced himself from strict tintinnabuli technique, instead highlighting the presence of tonality as an inherent feature of Pärt’s compositional system. The harmony of The Deer’s Cry is deeply rooted in A minor, which also emphasises the steadfast nature of the prayer text.

The Deer's Cry premiered on 13 and 14 February 2008 in St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dundalk, performed by the State Choir Latvija conducted by Fergus Sheil. The piece is dedicated to Eric Marinitsch from Universal Edition, with whom the composer has been in creative collaboration since the early 1990s.

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Lorica – in Christian tradition, a prayer recited to summon the power of God for the protection from evil. It was recited before going into the battle, for instance. The Latin word lōrīca means armour or breastplate.

Vox Clamantis, Jaan-Eik Tulve (conductor). CD The Deer's Cry. ECM New Series 2466

© ECM Records

World premiere

13.02.2008
St. Peters Church, Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland

Composer's recital: Baltic Voices in Ireland – Arvo Pärt

State Choir Latvija , Fergus Sheil

Completion year

2007

Dedication

to Eric Marinitsch

Commissioned by

Louth Contemporary Music Society

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) a cappella

Duration

5 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Language

English

Vocal text

According to the Lorica of St Patrick

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in me, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me,
Christ with me.
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