Ordinary Saints
Music from the multi-disciplinary collaboration between the painter Bruce Herman, poet Malcolm Guite and composer J.A.C. Redford. The work may be performed as an instrumental suite for chamber orchestra, an abridged suite for a trio consisting of piano, clarinet and cello, or an abridged suite for solo piano. A song cycle for soprano accompanied by one of these three instrumental combinations features settings of six of Malcolm Guite's poems for the project. Individual pieces or small groupings may also be performed. More detail may be found below under Voicing/Instrumentation.

Duration: 45' (suite) / 27' (abridged suite) / 17' (song cycle)
Difficulty: 4/5

  • 01. The Light We Never Noticed (3:48)
  • 02. Ordinary Saints (2:56)
  • 03. Summoning Beauty (4:48)
  • 04. Here Is Your Father (3:01)
  • 05. Red Over Gold (3:19)
  • 06. Unveiling Shapes (2:54)
  • 07. Firefly (2:55)
  • 08. Sitting for Bruce (3:16)
  • 09. Signs of Joy (2:22)
  • 10. Crossing the Lines (2:21)
  • 11. Scathing Grace (3:37)
  • 12. A Shared Motif (2:32)
  • 13. His Piercing Glance (2:29)
  • 14. Ordinary Saints: Epilogue (2:42)

Listen to the instrumental suite for chamber orchestra by clicking on the audio tracks below.

Readers of Image may listen to the music referenced in issue #100 on pages 112-113 by clicking on the recordings of "Summoning Beauty" and "His Piercing Glance." "Summoning Beauty" is responsive music to Bruce Herman's self portrait and the live recording features Malcolm Guite reading his poem over the music. "His Piercing Glance" was composed in response to Bruce's portrait of Jeremy Begbie.

Live recordings of all the music from the premiere may be found under the Voicing/Instrumentation heading below.

The Light We Never Noticed

Summoning Beauty

Red Over Gold

Firefly

Signs of Joy

Scathing Grace

His Piercing Glance

Summoning Beauty
Live recording from the premiere
with Malcolm Guite

Ordinary Saints

Here Is Your Father

Unveiling Shapes

Sitting for Bruce

Crossing the Lines

A Shared Motif

Ordinary Saints: Epilogue

His Piercing Glance
Live recording from the premiere

Voicing/Instrumentation
Ordinary Saints: Suite for Chamber Orchestra

1 Flute
1 Oboe (doubling Cor Anglais)
1 Clarinet
1 Bassoon
1 Horn
1 Piano
2 Violins
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 ContraBass

  • 01. The Light We Never Noticed (3:48)
  • 02. Ordinary Saints (2:56)
  • 03. Summoning Beauty (4:48)
  • 04. Here Is Your Father (3:01)
  • 05. Red Over Gold (3:19)
  • 06. Unveiling Shapes (2:54)
  • 07. Firefly (2:55)
  • 08. Sitting for Bruce (3:16)
  • 09. Signs of Joy (2:22)
  • 10. Crossing the Lines (2:21)
  • 11. Scathing Grace (3:37)
  • 12. A Shared Motif (2:32)
  • 13. His Piercing Glance (2:29)
  • 14. Ordinary Saints: Epilogue (2:42)

Duration: 45'

Ordinary Saints: Suite for Trio

Piano
Clarinet
Cello

  • 1. The Light We Never Noticed (3:48)
  • 2. Summoning Beauty (4:48)
  • 3. Unveiling Shapes (2:54)
  • 4. Sitting for Bruce (3:16)
  • 5. Signs of Joy (2:22)
  • 6. Crossing the Lines (2:21)
  • 7. Scathing Grace (3:37)
  • 8. His Piercing Glance (2:29)

Duration: 27'

Ordinary Saints: Suite for Solo Piano

  • 1. The Light We Never Noticed (3:48)
  • 2. Summoning Beauty (4:48)
  • 3. Unveiling Shapes (2:54)
  • 4. Sitting for Bruce (3:16)
  • 5. Signs of Joy (2:22)
  • 6. Crossing the Lines (2:21)
  • 7. Scathing Grace (3:37)
  • 8. His Piercing Glance (2:29)

Ordinary Saints: Song Cycle for Soprano

Accompanied by Chamber Orchestra, Trio, or Piano as listed above.

  • 1. Ordinary Saints (2:56)
  • 2. Firefly (2:55)
  • 3. Here Is Your Father (3:01)
  • 4. Red Over Gold (3:19)
  • 5. A Shared Motif (2:32)
  • 6. Ordinary Saints: Epilogue (2:42)

Duration: 17'

The Light We Never Noticed
Live recording from the premiere

Summoning Beauty
Live recording from the premiere
with Malcolm Guite

Red Over Gold
Live recording from the premiere
with Bethany Ring, soprano

Firefly
Live recording from the premiere
with Bethany Ring, soprano

Signs of Joy
Live recording from the premiere

Scathing Grace
Live recording from the premiere

His Piercing Glance
Live recording from the premiere

Ordinary Saints
Live recording from the premiere
with Bethany Ring, soprano

Here Is Your Father
Live recording from the premiere
with Bethany Ring, soprano

Unveiling Shapes
Live recording from the premiere

Sitting for Bruce
Live recording from the premiere
with Malcolm Guite

Crossing the Lines
Live recording from the premiere

A Shared Motif
Live recording from the premiere
with Bethany Ring, soprano

Ordinary Saints: Epilogue
Live recording from the premiere
with Bethany Ring, soprano

Notes
Ordinary Saints

Ordinary Saints is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between the painter Bruce Herman, poet Malcolm Guite and composer J.A.C. Redford.

More notes to come soon!
Text
Ordinary Saints: Song Cycle for Soprano

Ordinary Saints
Malcolm Guite (1957- )

The ordinary saints, the ones we know,
Our too-familiar family and friends,
When shall we see them? Who can truly show
Whilst still rough-hewn, the God who shapes our ends?
Who will unveil the presence, glimpse the gold
That is and always was our common ground,
Stretch out a finger, feel, along the fold
To find the flaw, to touch and search that wound
From which the light we never noticed fell
Into our lives? Remember how we turned
To look at them, and they looked back? That full-
Eyed love unselved us, and we turned around,
Unready for the wrench and reach of grace.
But one day we will see them face to face.

Firefly
Malcolm Guite (1957- )

In every child a cosmos is concealed 
In every child a cosmos is revealed
 
Firefly! Firefly!
Dancing light in my sky,
Let me dance where you fly
Kindle, little firefly,
Sparks that dance as thoughts fly,
Light the way my firefly,
And by your light I'll lead you
In the dance
 
And a little child shall lead them
In the dance.

 
And a little child shall lead us
To dance before the fountain
That rises before we rise
That plays before all time flies
That conjures before our eyes
The stars up in the night skies,
For galaxies are fireflies,
Beneath God's holy mountain,
And a little child shall lead us
In the dance
 
And a little child shall lead them
In the dance.

 
And a little child shall lead us
And in green pastures feed us
For he alone has freed us
And a little child shall lead us
In the dance
 
Firefly! Firefly!
Dancing light in my sky
Let me dance where you fly
Kindle, little firefly,
Sparks that dance as thoughts fly,
Light the way my firefly,
And by your light you’ll lead me
In the dance.

Portrait of the Artist's Father
Malcolm Guite (1957- )

Here is your father, looking out at us
From this dark room where shadows furl and fold,
Patiently present to whoever comes,
Still on his battered sofa, at his ease.
He looks out from the darkness of the world,
The copper blotch and mottle of old time
Whose tarnishes and patina reveal
Strange beauty in the saints we love and leave,
Whose leaving leaves us burnished as we grieve.
He meets us here, at home in his own skin,
Which holds more colours than the eye can trace,
More substance, more humanity and grace
Than paint on wood can possibly contain,
All in the clarity of his kind face.

Portrait of the Artist's Mother
Malcolm Guite (1957- )

Red over gold and under gold a wound
Whence life itself in blood and water flows,
A branch is broken but the tree still grows.
The scar is over-layered with bark, a space
That opens through the gold to blood-stained ground.
And now the wood itself presents her to us,
That wound above her opens out to us,
But cannot yet disclose its inwardness,
So she herself, beneath it, leaning out,
And looking past us is still holding in,
The singing soul still shining through her skin.
A different darkness and a different light
Kindle her eyes, which hold us for a while,
And see more sorrow than there's time to tell.

A Shared Motif – A portrait of the Shaw family
Malcolm Guite (1957- )

To be a person is to be a gift,
Given in love. For each of us receive
The gift of being from another and we lift
Each other into light with every glance,
Given and returned in this long dance.
We have become ourselves through fathers, mothers,
All whose traces, and whose grace-notes, leave
Us all the more the people that we are.

Playing for others, in our turn, we hear
Our own tune, in a new key, played by others.
So with this family: each at their ease,
Relaxed within themselves, and yet aware
Of one another, as a simple grace
Sounds its soft motif through the quiet air.

Ordinary Saints: Epilogue
Malcolm Guite (1957- )

And now we turn our eyes from wood and paint
To contemplate the saints in flesh and blood,
The ones who’ve seen these pictures with us. Faint
Traces of God’s image, and his glad
Presence in humanity, have shone
Awhile for us in paintings on a wall,
The dark glass brightened, and the shadows gone.
How shall we know each other now? Will all
That we have seen recede to memory?
Or is our sight restored, and having gazed
On icons in this place, will clarity
Transfigure all of us? We turn, amazed,
To see the ones beside us, face to face,
As living icons, sacraments of grace.
Commission and Performance History
Ordinary Saints was premiered on 27 October 2018 at Laity Lodge in the hill country northwest of San Antonio, Texas by Bruce Herman, Malcolm Guite and J.A.C. Redford, with Bethany Ring (soprano), Amber Salladin (piano), Nathan Williams (clarinet) and Steuart Pincombe (cello). The Suite for Chamber Orchestra was recorded by the Windhover Chamber Artists directed by J.A.C. Redford and may be heard on the Ordinary Saints app available at the Apple App Store.

The solo piano version of the opening segment of the suite, The Light We Never Noticed, was premiered by HyeJin Kim on 21 October 2018 at SOKA Performing Arts Center in Southern California.