Behold This Mystery (Cantata)
for SATB, S&T soloists & chamber orchestra

Composer: Gawthrop, Daniel E.

  • 80209801

Publication Type

Choral Score


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Suitable for concert or worship (esp. All Saints)
Instrumentation: 1111; 2221; timp, perc, hp, cel; stgs
Duration: 30'15"
Text: adapted from the New Testament by Jane Griner
Published by: Dunstan House

Also available for sale:
Behold this Mystery, conductor's score
Behold this Mystery, set of parts

Two churches, one Presbyterian, one Methodist, located in two adjacent states, wanted to commission a major work for chorus and orchestra to use in a memorial service held annually near the feast of All Saints, but felt that, considering the costs involved in hiring an orchestra for the performance, they couldn’t also afford the commissioning fee which an extended work would necessitate. Composer Daniel E. Gawthrop put the two directors in touch with each other, and a joint commission was conceived.

Originally, the plan called for two completely separate premières, one at each church, but as the directors consulted on musical matters they decided that it would add an element of ecumenism and outreach to the project if they joined the two choirs together for both performances. Accordingly, on the first of the two Sundays the South Carolina Presbyterians joined the North Carolina Methodists in their Sunday morning services to sing the première of Behold This Mystery. On the following Sunday the travel was reversed for the second première.

The involved choirs, congregations, clergy and directors all declared the project a triumph. Further performances followed, and the piece has now earned a place in the small but distinguished category called "Twentieth Century Extended Works for Chorus and Orchestra Which Have Received More Than One Performance."

Behold This Mystery is suitable anywhere that you might program a requiem, e.g., either in concert or within the context of a worship service. It lasts about 27 minutes in performance. Soprano and Baritone soloists are called for, although a Tenor may be substituted for the (rather high) Baritone part if needed. The choral parts are not terribly difficult but this is an extended work, probably equivalent to five or six typical anthems. Instrumental parts are not virtuosic; collegiate and professional ensembles should have no trouble preparing the piece with only a few rehearsals.

Minimum order quantity: 8 copies. Perusal copies are available by contacting (include the organization name with your request). To order quantities fewer than 8, please call customer service at (973) 857-3440.
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