A Linden Antiphon

St Paul’s Cathedral

I’m delighted to have been commissioned by Archicantiores to write a new poem to commemorate the Grinling Gibbons tercentenary. The poem has been set to music by Alex Woolf, and will be performed for the first time on Monday 2 August 2021, as part of an event organized by the Master Carvers’ Association.

A Linden Antiphon

Our human hearts
take solace and shelter
within forests of stone.
The linden trees
must rise elsewhere.

But lift up your thoughts
to the interleaving
linden voices
in the gracefully carved
and cloistered air.

I wrote the poem largely in my head, as I walked through a wood close to my home. I found myself thinking that, while human habitation comes at a price for the natural world, human art sometimes repays the debt. In pondering Grinling Gibbons’ extraordinary achievement using limewood for his work in St Paul’s Cathedral and elsewhere, I found myself believing that the trees live on – in the collaborative arts of music and carving that characterise the spaces in which we praise.

The Grinling Gibbons tercentenary festival runs from August 2021 to August 2022.


To hear the recording, as broadcast on BBC Radio 3, click on this link and then scroll forward to 1:09 https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000yf0x

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