Listen to the Marsh Chapel Choir perform music professor John Rommereim’s new piece for mixed choir, “And Glory Shone Around.” The choir premiered the work on Dec. 13. Their Dec. 16 performance was broadcast live on 90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, and is available on the Marsh Chapel podcast, Dec. 16. “And Glory Shown Around” begins at 10:41 in the broadcast.
Rommereim was inspired by the early American shape-note composition Sherburne by Daniel Reed, based on Nahum Tate’s poem “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.”
“The shape-note tradition is a distinctly American phenomenon, and I hope that this piece captures some of its wonderful energy and its home-spun flavor,” Rommereim says.
“The poem puts forward the most essential images from the Nativity story in simple, direct language. I tried to follow the course of this drama in miniature, with all its contrast, from the shepherds working their night shift ‘all seated on the ground,’ to the ‘mighty dread’ that ‘seized their troubled mind,’ to the touching scene of the ‘meanly wrapped’ infant, to the announcement of peace, and the thrilling appearance of the ‘heavenly throng’ singing those catchy lines, ‘Goodwill henceforth from heaven to men/Begin and never cease!’”
In 2012, the Grinnell Singers collaborated with the Marsh Chapel Choir in commissioning a work by Mohammed Fairouz. The ties between the groups were strengthened when the Grinnell Singers performed at Boston University's Marsh Chapel as the final stop on their 2013 choral tour.
“Scott Jarrett [director of music at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel] is a phenomenal pianist and organist, and a conductor who has worked with some of the country's most renowned ensembles. I'm thrilled to have such a top-flight ensemble performing the premiere of my piece,” says Rommereim.
Rommereim is Blanche Johnson Professor of Music at Grinnell. He teaches composition and conducts the Grinnell Singers and Grinnell Oratorio Society.