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Motet Notes

John Harbison: "Wherefore I Put Thee In Remembrance"

John Harbison’s “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance” is the first in the set of Two Emmanuel Motets, written in 1990. There is a kind of musical motto to this motet, a sort of ticking oscillation of minor seconds at the beginning of the exhortation. It returns at the end of the motet, expanded and developed, as we are reminded that the qualities of soundness of mind and judgment, the power to influence things for the good, are God-given and persistent but sometimes dormant and forgotten. The whole motet is a vigorous wake-up call to the spirit, rousing it with the agitated proddings of the opening section and reassuring it with the stunning simplicity of the final cadence.

©David St. George