The following post was received from Clark Williamson, director of music ministries, and lightly edited:
On October 11, 2015, Anna Gugler and I will be teaming up to bring you a classical vocal solo entitled “The Infinite Shining Heavens.” Through the years of 1901-04, Ralph (pronounced with a long “a”) Vaughn Williams composed the music and paired it with the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island). The selection is one of nine pieces from the baritone song cycle “Songs of Travel”. Vaughan Williams, like Stevenson, was from England and was often influenced by the folk songs and tunes he heard all around the British Isles. As a composer, he is better known for his works for symphonic orchestra. Ironically, I performed the entire song cycle exactly 40 years ago for my junior recital.
The solo is only 3 pages long but covers a lot of musical ground and text in a short time. The mood is very ethereal and mystical as the song’s accompaniment works its way through a development of a minor sounding key with harp-like arpeggiated chords. There is an interplay, a struggle between images of day and night, darkness and light, sorrow and redemption.
“…..Till lo, I looked in the dusk and a star had come down to me.” The shining of that star guides the traveler through their faith journey like a beacon coming from a light house, for a safe landing following the tribulation of stormy waves. It’s the light of Christ, who doesn’t give up on us, and “infinitely shines” on our path to show us the way home.