The single creation of one soul was commissioned for the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria BC – on Vancouver Island where I live in the summer months. It sets a passage from Thomas Traherne, from The Fourth Century, one of the chapters of Centuries of Meditation. I had set Traherne previously, for an a cappella work The Fifth Century, composed for The Crossing and recorded by them.
Gavin Bryars: The single creation of one soul (for choir and organ)
The dividing of the sea, the commanding of the sun, the making of the world is nothing to the single creation of one soul… Yet is this greatest of all miracles unknown because men are addicted only to sensible and visible things… Where it should lodge such innumerable objects, as it doth by knowing, whence it should derive such infinite streams as flow from it by Loving, how it should be a mirror of all Eternity, being made of nothing, how it should be a fountain or a sun of Eternity, out of which such abundant rivers of affection flow, it is impossible to declare…
The abundance of its beams, the reality of its beams, the freedom of its beams, the excellency and value of its beams are all transcendent. They shine upon all the things in Heaven and Earth and cover them all with celestial waters: waters of refreshment, beams of comfort… The soul communicates itself wholly by them: and is richer in its communications than all odours and spices whatsoever. It containeth in its nature the influences of the stars by way of eminence, the splendour of the sun, the verdure of trees, the value of gold, the lustre of precious stones, the sense of beasts and the life of Angels: the fatness of feasts, the magnificence of palaces, the melody of music, the sweetness of wine, the beauty of the excellent, the excellency of virtue, and the glory of cherubims. The harmony and the joys of Heaven appear in Love, for all these were made for her, and all these are to be enjoyed in her.
From Thomas Traherne: Centuries of Meditation, Fourth Century