Remember is a choral setting of a poem of the same title by Christina Rossetti. The poet asks that she will be remembered once she has ‘gone far away into the silent land’.
The idea that we transcend to another existence after we die is a belief common to all the major religions and one with which I wholeheartedly concur. Whilst setting this lovely poem, I was aware of the sadness people feel when someone close to them dies, but more importantly, the sense of mystery and wonder that the person who dies feels as they enter a new world of existence.
I consider that the style of my setting is appropriate to performance at a funeral or memorial service in addition to supporting the sentiments expressed by the text. For example, the separation between the two ‘worlds’ is expressed by the stark harmonic language, especially with the musical setting of the line ‘Nor half I turn to go yet turning stay’.
The musical motive that runs through the whole piece is the opening setting of the words ‘Remember me’. This initially provides a springboard for the text itself to be sung by the sopranos. Later the ladies sing this motive and the tenors sing the text.
The music builds up to the last two lines where the poet suggests that it is better to forget her rather than to be saddened by anything for which she might be remembered. But as the poem is generally asking that she be remembered, I finish the piece with a return to the opening ‘Remember me’, the last phrase being a string of suspensions that seem to extend into infinity.