DAWN. BRUSSELS. OCTOBER 12th 1915
First performance; 23rd March, St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street
Selwyn College Choir, Onyx Brass, cond. Michael Bawtree
JAM (John Armitage Memorial Trust) concert "Music of Our Time"
Norfolk born Edith Cavell was executed by German firing squad at dawn on October 12th 1915 having been found guilty of treason by a court martial. As a nurse in German occupied Brussels she worked with patients of all nationalities and helped some two hundred Allied soldiers escape to safety in the neutral Netherlands. Her execution caused worldwide condemnation.
The text for this piece was inspired by two short poems by award winning poet Chloe Stopa-Hunt. The poems combine words that Edith Cavell is known to have spoken to the Anglican chaplain, the Reverend Stirling Gahan, including "In life, in death, O Lord", a quotation from the final verse of 'Abide with Me' that they repeated together on the night before her execution.
The other part of the text is drawn from the authorised statement by Dr. Alfred Zimmerman (German Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs) October 24th 1915, including the phrases:
"It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but she was judged justly. Consider what would happen to a State, particularly in war, if it left crimes aimed at the safety of its armies to go unpunished because committed by women.
Man and woman are equal before the law. No war court in the world could have given any other verdict. I know that they acted from patriotism; but in war one must be prepared to seal one's patriotism with blood."