Consider the Lilies

  • Composer: Stephen Smith 
  • Publisher: Cypress Choral Music
  • Cat No: CP 1312
  • Canadian Composition: Yes
  • Duration: 5:44
  • Sample Track:

Program Notes:

Canadian composer Dr. Stephen Smith has a lifetime of experience as the piano accompanist for several of Vancouver’s leading choirs, including Elektra Women’s Choir. His works are renowned for the beauty of their texts and sensitive way in which he sets them to music. In this work, because the origins of the bible were in the Middle East, he has used an unusual scale which is reminiscent of the music of that region. The text is Matthew 6: 25-34 which encourages the listener to trust in God’s provision.

Conductor Notes:

Elektra’s accompanist has spent decades in choir rehearsals and is an extremely gifted composer and arranger. I am very proud to include Consider the Lilies in this series. One of the things I like best about commissioning Stephen is that his works are all unique. Binding them together is the craft of the writing – excellent lines where challenges make sense and have purpose, great word stress, attention to shape and momentum, and first rate choices of text. The texture here is dense with many overlapping lines that need to be managed carefully to expose the new words as they are presented. The scale C, D, E, F, G, Ab, Bb is exotic, meant to convey the Middle Eastern roots of the bible. My favourite spots include the dramatic climax at “Yet Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these” and the comforting, simple, more transparent and consonant section that follows. Never having heard this done by children’s voices, I would be curious as to whether the low A2 line works in that context. It is certainly a stunning addition to the adult women’s choir repertoire. When I think about, hear, or conduct this piece, I know I am very lucky to be part of the creative art form that we all share and love.

Karen Thomas and the women of Seattle Pro Musica performed this in the spring of 2018 and some of the singers were kind enough to contributed these comments on an Instagram post:

“The cover of the sheet music shows a high meadow covered in glacier lilies, evoking some beloved hiking destinations in this region. The layering of voices and gentle rhythms of this piece settle me and remind me of the effortless grace in nature.” — Elly

“Singing this genuinely makes my life a little better each week. I’m often hustling into rehearsal after a hectic work day, and this piece provides some peace. I connect with its message to notice, be present in the moment, and not worry too much about what’s to come.” — Meaghan

“My mom died after a two year struggle with cancer, the year before I was accepted as an alto in SPM. One of my sorrows is that she never heard an SPM concert. This piece brings her to first row, center, in rapt joy, caressed by waves of our choral sea.” — Rose

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

Recordings

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Concerts:

Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink. Behold the birds of the air; they sow not, neither do they reap; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.

And why take ye thought for raiment, saying wherewithal shall we be clothed? Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin; yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for itself. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6: 25-34