Metaphysical Songs consists of two settings of Christmas poems by the Welsh metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan.
Awake, Glad Heart! is a setting of the first half of ‘Christ’s Nativity’. It was originally conceived as a part of my oratorio Nativity, before I realised it works better as an independent piece. The opening section is characterised by the repeated and increasingly loud exclamations: ‘Awake!’. This is followed by a more light-hearted middle section before a rapturous return to the opening material.
The Shepherds is a setting of Henry Vaughan’s poem of the same name. The poem reflects on the shepherds’ adoration of Jesus in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem. The music is all based on a single drone which lasts for the whole duration of the piece, albeit with occasional changes of register. A repetitive melody is presented on top of the drone, and increasingly elaborate ornamentation is added over the course of the piece.