Spells of Herrick is based on the mysticism and power of music. The text addresses a magical, healing power. Robert Herrick (1591-1604) was a metaphysical poet who wrote many works that deal in mysticism and the afterlife. Incantation is a prologue to Charms. The characters in the poetry are invoking powers beyond themselves to help a sick child return from a frail condition to health. The child’s family has chosen to use charms to aid in the their healing. This movement is the family members invoking the charms to cure the sickness.
The poetry of the first movement, “To Music” revolves around the idea of extending one’s faith of the unknown to include utilization of charms or tangible “connections” to a universal power source. This movement also weaves the concepts of incantation with mysticism and other worldly magic in a tapestry of text and sound throughout. The basses and tenors introduce one part of the incantation and the sopranos and altos reply with another. The following phrase combines both incantational phrases to strengthen and invoke the charm.
The second movement is more specific in its character portrayal, in that it describes a young child near death whose only thread of hope lies in the mystical power of music as a healing balm. The flourishing lines of the piano and the fluidity of the voice parts symbolize the manifestation of the charm. The soprano represents a motherly figure who is asking for the charms to “bind up his senses” and “entrance his pain” while the lower three voices provide support to the “mother”. At the modulation it turns more introspective and wishful than desperate and pleading. The wish is that if this child were to die that it happens peacefully and gently rather than suffer, however, with that thought they hope the child awakes with the sickness healed.
Voicing: SATB (divisi) and Piano
Premiered by the Utah Stath University Chamber Singers, Dr. Cory Evans, conductor (Salt Lake City, UT)
Published by Walton Music