Spiritus Mundi | SATB Chorus a cappella | 5.5'
Spiritus Mundi was composed for Suzi Digby to premiere with The Golden Bridge Consort as a companion piece—a modern “reflection”—of Orlando de Lassus's motet Timor et tremor.
In searching for a contemporary text that could pair with Timor et tremor, I was struck by Amy Fleury's "Spiritus Mundi." Fleury's poem is secular but still spiritual, reflecting gratitude for the fruits of the earth in a language both pastoral and almost biblical. Both pieces explore the idea of trust in something greater than oneself, whether that trust is in God or the natural world that surrounds us.
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Listen around to the long sentence the land is saying,
to the wind rumoring through the aggregate of grasses.
Hear the soft explosions of all that is tilled under,
a scumble of clods cleaved by the blade, the sheared leavings
of wheat, and memory, memory, a root system still
drilling down, searching out moisture, anything that’s useful,
anything dear. Do you recognize your own shy gestures
in the weft of the fields? Oh sisters and brothers,
let the gentle tether of our longing keep us here
among the undulant, amber barley and russet oats.
And if all flesh is grass, then let us live humbly, as grasses do.
In sympathy, we shall shiver and bend, pressing our knees
into the earth, turning our faces to the quavering sun.