The Greatest Refreshment

Posted on 10th June 2020 by simonbeattie

Having written a couple of blogposts recently on some translations of mine, I thought I would turn to my compositions, if nothing else than to document a little about them. To being at the beginning: my first choral work, The Greatest Refreshment, dates from 2005.

It is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, who was a gardener in the village of Quainton, Buckinghamshire.  He died in 1991, when I was sixteen, after which I wrote the poem sung here by the upper voices.  Years later, when I set it, I decided to meld my words with those of Genesis chapter 2, verses 7–8: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden [“paradisum”]; and there he put the man whom he had formed.’  

As for the title, it comes from Francis Bacon’s 1625 essay ‘Of Gardens’: ‘God Almighty first planted a garden; and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures; it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man …’

You can listen to the piece here:

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