The music opens with a C# diminished chord in a very still and somber texture reflecting grief. The text is introduced with the first of two main motives, a rising 4-note outline of B minor in a triple repetition of “It Is Not Death.” As each stanza proceeds the music concludes on the second main motive, a 5-note descending span of a minor 7th in Bb Lydian. The energy and mood of the music gradually shift over the five stanzas, as the focus moves from this life to the next; the texture thickens, the harmony expands, and the dynamic grows into the music’s pinnacle on “reign with You on high!” The music closes on a reprise of the opening passage, simultaneously mindful of our mortality and our eternity.
Characteristics of the music include mixed meters, variable tempos, shifting tonal centers and textures, and rich chord structures. The vocal parts are moderately difficult while the accompaniment is suitable for intermediate skills or higher.
Orchestration for this setting is available here.