Pilgrimage
SATB Choir divisi and Organ

$2.00 per score

 

About the Work 

Pilgrimage was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for their National Convention in Seattle, Washington, and was premiered by the St. James Cathedral Choir in July of 2022. 

Program Notes

I am deeply honored to have been commissioned by the American Guild of Organists to
compose Pilgrimage for their 2022 National Convention in Seattle, WA. While setting this text, I
imagined what Sir Walter Raleigh might have thought while contemplating his own death, and
similarly, how a pilgrim might visualize the journey to heaven.


Because Raleigh uses sparkling gems to describe the heavenly paradise, I assigned each choral
part to a specific gem using my synesthesia—the association of color and sound—to portray their
respective colors through contrasting sonorities. Eventually I superimposed all four vocal lines in
a stretto-like texture, with increasingly faster scales and arpeggios in the organ, to create the
dizzying effect of shimmering gems at every turn.


After Raleigh has experienced this dreamlike vision of heaven, he is ready for his own death and
pilgrimage to the afterlife, as the choir sings “then I am ready...to tread those blest paths which
before I writ.” This is followed by a return of the organ prelude that initially began the piece, this
time richer and fuller, representing the pilgrim, who has been changed by his or her vision of the
journey. To emphasize the ultimate destination of that journey, the choir repeats the phrase “to
the land of heaven,” ending the work in an atmosphere of comfort and hope.

Text

Give me my scallop shell of quiet,  

My staff of faith to walk upon,  

My scrip of joy, immortal diet,  

My bottle of salvation,  

My gown of glory, hope’s true gage,  

And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.  

 

[M]y soul, like a white palmer,  

Travels to the land of heaven 

And there I’ll kiss  

The bowl of bliss,  

And drink my eternal fill  

On every milken hill.  

 

And by the happy blissful way  

More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,  

 

And when our bottles and all we  

Are fill’d with immortality,  

Then the holy paths we’ll travel,  

Strew’d with rubies thick as gravel,  

Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,  

High walls of coral, and pearl bowers.  

 

Then am I ready, like a palmer fit,  

To tread those blest paths which before I writ. 

 

Give me my scallop shell of quiet,  

My staff of faith to walk upon,  

My scrip of joy, immortal diet,  

My bottle of salvation,  

My gown of glory, hope’s true gage,  

And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.  

From A Passionate Man's Pilgrimage

Sir Walter Raleigh