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The Testament of Dr. Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer

Choral Cantata

Choir: SATB

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Year written: 


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Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Testament of Dr. Cranmer arose out of my reading of a biography of Cranmer and a history of the Reformation and is a setting of extracts from Thomas Cranmer's final speech, just before his execution, evoking his final moments and reiterating Cranmer's commitment to a reformed Protestant Church. The image of Cranmer, being led to the scaffold by a pair of priests singing Latin psalms alternatim, stuck in my mind. I subsequently downloaded a number of the original eye-witness accounts off the web. Something about their wonderful language made it easy to consider setting Cranmer's words directly. I assembled a text from a cut down version of his speech preserving the best known passages. The confidence and directness in Cranmer's speech appealed to me; the iconoclast in me looked forward to setting his denial of the Pope's authority. In our age of moral relativism, such secure absolutes can be appealing even if one does not always approve of the sentiments. Performed by the Eight:Fifteen Vocal Ensemble, conductor Paul Brough, at the University Church, Oxford, as part of the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Cranmer's execution

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