The words of the Cantata Rejoice in the Lamb are taken from a long poem of the same name. The writer was Christopher Smart, an eighteenth century poet, deeply religious, but of a strange and unbalanced mind.Rejoice in the Lamb was written while Smart was in an asylum, and is chaotic in form but contains many flashes of genius.It is a few of the finest passages that Benjamin Britten has chosen to set to music. The main theme of the poem, and that of the Cantata, is the worship of God, by all created beings and things, each in its own way.The Cantata is made up of ten short sections. The first sets the theme. The second gives a few examples of one person after another being summoned from the pages of the Old Testament to join with some creatures in praising and rejoicing in God. The third is a quiet and ecstatic Hallelujah. In the fourth section Smart takes his beloved cat as an example of nature praising God by being simply what the Creator intended it to be. The same thought is carried on in the fifth section with the illustration of the mouse. The sixth section speaks of the flowers - the poetry of Christ. In the seventh section Smart refers to his troubles and suffering, but even these are an occasion for praising God, for it is through Christ that he will find his deliverance. The eighth section gives four letters from an alphabet, leading to a full chorus in section nine which speaks of musical instruments and music's praise of God. The final section repeats of Hallelujah.
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Requiem Op.9: Vocal Score (Durand)
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