Anthem 13 – The Brightest Light

Welcome to Anthem 13 in my attempt to write a new choir anthem every week for a year. I’m Kevin Mulryne and I hope you will enjoy listening to my progress throughout 2024. Please do visit the website Anthem52.com, follow along on x.com – @realanthem52 or Instagram – @realanthem52 and send me a message to show@anthem52.com.

I’ve had enough of Lent. Well, in terms of writing anthems, at least. This week I had a go at an Easter anthem and next week I may do the same. My usual web search for lyrics turned up the, perhaps surprising, Easter Prayers page of the Country Living magazine website – https://www.countryliving.com/life/g30679333/easter-prayers/

I was drawn to the short and attractive anonymous prayer called ‘The Brightest Light’. Here are the words:


Words for Anthem 13:

The veil of darkness transformed to the brightest light.

The most dreadful end became the most beautiful beginning.

The depths of despair fade to reveal hope everlasting.

The curse of death defeated by eternal life.

It’s an interesting challenge to try to set such a short text and I did end up repeating more than one section of words. I don’t think that’s an issue in this case.

Each of the 4 lines begins with a downbeat feel and ends with an upbeat one so there’s plenty of scope for contrasts. The opening of my choir and organ anthem contains an organ introduction taken from the first part the choir sings but is shorter and unresolved. The choir version then takes the opportunity to make the extended ending as positive as possible by shifting up into an even brighter key. I come back to this technique several times in the anthem.

I played around with the organ repeating or doubling the choir parts as well as providing accompaniment in other places and I let the time signature do what it wanted to so there are plenty of odd and inconsistent signatures thrown around.

3 sharps turns into 3 flats for a middle section and listen out for some Hammer House of Horror moments close to the start to portray ‘The most dreadful end’. I had fun with this and the more extensive use of crescendos and rallentandos (getting louder and getting slower) than usual. The longest crescendo and rallentando accentuate a fairly mad ascending chordal structure for ‘ … fade to reveal hope everlasting’ and I like the way the organ pedals start again immediately afterwards at the original tempo in a bit of a bass and tenor workout.

ANother point to listen out for is the shift from 3 flats back into 3 sharps, with the organ playing an unapologetically warped sequence. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Finally there’s a big resolution to A major to finish off the Easter fun. See if you can spot those features and see what you think:

Well, what do you think? Let me know on X.com @realanthem52, Instagram @realanthem52, as a comment below or via email show@anthem52.com

I hope you will join me next week for a new episode (perhaps featuring my second interview) – and a new anthem – only 39 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?


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