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Lead, Kindly Light

The Music of Paul Mealor

  • Friday, August 12, 2022
  • 8:00 PM
  • St. Jerome Catholic Church
  • Hyattsville, MD


Director’s note

Dear friends,

I’m delighted to welcome you to our first public concert since January 2020. (A lot has happened since then.) There’s something uniquely special about a live concert, from the history of the space, to the gathering of loved ones and supporters, to the suspension of time in the silence before and after a piece. It’s a feeling many of us in Lux have missed now for years, and we’re elated to be able to return to it with you. 

This concert celebrates an exciting milestone in Lux’s history: just this past month, we were delighted to be joined by internationally-renowned composer Paul Mealor, who graciously flew in from the UK in order to record an album of his works. We spent an incredible five days talking, laughing, and singing, including three days of dense recording sessions. (We also took Paul to his first-ever baseball game, which those who know me will know was especially exciting for me.) 

Working with Paul (and with Mark Willey, our sound engineer on this project) was an absolute dream. We worked tirelessly to breathe life into 17 of Paul’s pieces–nine of which were previously unrecorded. But this project meant more to us than just an incredible opportunity with amazing people. It was another album of Paul’s music, released years ago, that ignited a spark in many of us who sang in the very first iteration of Lux, back in my senior year of high school in 2015: Tenebrae’s A Tender Light. I still remember hearing Lady When I Behold for the first time on the floor of my childhood home. Paul’s music helped launch my own obsession with choral music, and I imagine the sentiment is similar for many of us at Lux. The fact that he reached out to collaborate with us on this project means more than I can describe, and I only hope that our album can play a small part in inspiring the next generation of young choral artists.

This concert is a celebration of the incredible work Paul, Mark, our manager Emily Shallbetter, and all of our singers put into this project (by far the largest production Lux has ever put together). It is also an opportunity for us to acknowledge where we came from. And so, alongside Paul’s work (which includes four world premieres), we are featuring three works from Songs From Home, our 2020 virtual concert and interview series, as well as a fourth work that we’ve been hoping to perform for a long time now: O Night That Is Brighter Than The Day by David Hurd, Echo’s Histories, a musical puzzle by Dale Trumbore, Awaken by Adrian Sims, and Summer Shower by Christen Holmes.

Before I finish writing, I’d like to give a few thank you’s to some folks without whom this project wouldn’t have been possible. Our entire Executive Committee did such amazing work to prepare this project, especially our manager, Emily Shallbetter. Mark and Paul’s expertise and wonderful personalities kept us at our best throughout. My parents, Frank and Kathy Napoli, both hosted our post-recording celebration and underwrote Joseph Molieri’s wonderful camerawork on the project. Finally, thanks to each and every one of our supporters, you included! Without the last seven (!) years of support we’ve received from friends, family, colleagues, community members, and so many others, there’s simply no way we could’ve put on such a big undertaking. 

As much as we love this work, we cannot do it for free. Musicians, sound engineers, scores, and licenses all cost money, and like most performing arts organizations, ticket sales are far from sufficient. If you enjoy tonight’s concert and you are able to do so, I urge you to make a donation today to help fund the costs of this summer’s recording project, and to support future projects like it. Our ushers can accept cash or checks for donation during intermission or after the concert. You can also donate by credit/debit card at the merchandise table after the concert, or online here. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent permitted by law under IRC sections 501(c)(3) and 170. (Checks should be made out to Lux Choir, Inc.)

Please don’t forget to come and say hello after the concert. We all so much enjoy getting to meet new friends and see old ones, too. I hope you enjoy the concert–we’re so glad you’re here.

—Robby Napoli, Director

About the artists

About Paul Mealor

Paul Mealor is one of the world’s most performed living composers and has been described as “the most important composer to have emerged in Welsh choral music since William Mathias” (New York Times, 2001). Mealor was catapulted to international stardom in April 2011, when 2.5 billion people heard his Motet, Ubi caritas, at the Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Recordings of his work topped both the Classical and Pop Charts in 2011. Since January 2003 he has taught at the University of Aberdeen, where he is Professor of Composition.

Mealor is deeply involved with musical organizations in Wales and across the UK, and is Composer in Residence with Canada’s top professional choir, Pro Coro Canada. In 2020, he was given the Fletcher of Saltoun Award for outstanding contribution to the arts and humanities in Scotland. He is also an Officer of the Venerable Order of St John (OStJ), a Great Shogun of the Order of the Samurai (OSS), and a Commander of the Catholic Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem (CLJ).

About Lux

Lux is an award-winning chamber choir dedicated to accessibility in professional-quality choral music performance and education, based in Washington, D.C. Since its founding in 2014, the group has earned praise from famed composers such as Paul Mealor, Eric Whitacre, and Ola Gjeilo; and their singers hail from some of the finest conservatories and schools of music across the United States. They’ve earned awards on both local and national levels, including two Wammies (Best Choral Group & Best Choral Album, 2021), and a Featured Choral Album on Classical MPR, joining past winners such as Voces8, Tenebrae, and The Sixteen. Ever passionate for contemporary choral music, Lux has given six world premieres since 2019, including works from their first commission and first composition contest in 2021.

Venue information and reminders

  • In the moments before the concert begins, please silence your cell phones and anything else that might beep or buzz. You are encouraged to use your phone to view this program during the concert, but please ensure it is silenced, and considering turning your screen brightness down as low as is comfortable for you.
  • Restrooms are accessible downstairs through the Gold Room (clearly indicated in the church foyer). The women’s restroom is at the bottom of the stairs, while the men’s restroom is through a hallway at the far left edge of the Gold Room. There is also a gender-neutral/“family” restroom within the utility room in the church foyer (clearly indicated with signage).

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

Matin Responsory

Performance details

US premiere.
Thomas Rust, Adam Whitman, and Amanda Densmoor, soloists. 

About the work

This particular Matin responsory text is a mainstay in Advent “Lessons and Carols” services in the Anglican tradition, where it is often sung using the setting adapted from Palestrina’s Magnificat by David Willcocks. While Mealor’s setting of the piece retains the Palestrina/Willocks antiphonal call-and-response structure (and even keeps them in the same voice parts as in the Palestrina/Willcocks setting), it quickly becomes apparent that Mealor has taken the piece in his own direction, leading the listener (and singers) through twists and turns, and shifting in and back out of keys, all on top of Mealor’s unmistakable thick texture and dense chords. The piece closes with soloists joining the choir for a full and triumphant declaration of the hope which often accompanies congregations during the time of Advent.


I look from afar: and lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth.
Go ye out to meet him and say:
Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel?

High and low, rich and poor, one with another.
Go ye out to meet him and say:
Hear, O thou Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
Tell us, art thou he that should come?
Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come to reign over thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

O beata Trinitas

Performance details

US premiere.
Austin Nikirk, soloist.

About the work

O beata Trinitas was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the disestablishment of the Church in Wales (part of the Anglican Communion). The poem, written by Welsh poet and author Grahame Davies, contains text in three languages, representing the traditional languages of Welsh Christianity: Latin, Welsh, and English. The premiere took place in 2020 in a recorded performance by the chamber ensemble Voces8, broadcast live at all six Welsh cathedrals simultaneously. The live premiere took place at a special service in 2021 at St. Davids [sic] Cathedral. O beata Trinitas was also performed at the enthronement of the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd. Andy John.


O beata Trinitas:
the earth, the rainfall and the grass.
Bless this land through which we pass.

Drindod Sanctaidd ddiwahân:
gair a llais a cherdd ein cân,
dyro’th ras drwy’n henaith lân.
Drindod Sanctaidd ddiwahân.

Holy, blessed Trinity:
the well, the river and the sea,
guide us to the mystery.

Grahame Davies (b. 1964)


O blessed Trinity:
[the earth, the rainfall and the grass.
Bless this land through which we pass.]

Holy and undivided Trinity,
word and voice and music of our song,
bestow your grace through our pure ancient tongue,
Holy and undivided Trinity.

[Holy, blessed Trinity:
The well, the river and the sea,
guide us to the mystery.


Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

God So Loved The World

About the work

The text of God So Loved The World comes from one of the most well-known Bible verses of all time: John 3:16. Mealor’s setting of this famous text features moments of declamation as well as moments of tenderness written to reflect the scope of this text. The declamatory moments are sung in unison by pairs: the altos and tenors together, followed by the sopranos and basses together. These lead into the choruses on the text “to save the world through him,” and “in him shall never die,” which form a canon between the sopranos and tenors that culminates in a glorious A major chord. The tender ending of the piece contrasts with the splendor of the chorus.


For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him shall never die but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16

David Hurd (b. 1950)

O Night That Is Brighter Than The Day

About the work

Originally intended as part of a series of yearly Christmas pieces sent out to family and friends, O Night That Is Brighter Than The Day is a piece which has transformed over the years. When David Hurd—a celebrated composer, organist, and church choir director—wrote the piece in 1990, he conceived it as a setting for four-part choir. Upon reaching the ending of the piece, however, Hurd felt it was begging for more voices, and so split the piece into eight parts at the end. Over time, it became a piece for two antiphonal choirs, combining at the end to finish with eight parts together.


O night that is brighter than the day,
O night more dazzling than the sun,
O night more sparkling than the snow,
O night more brilliant than our lamps!
O night that is sweeter than paradise,
O night delivered from darkness,
O night that dispels sleep,
O night that makes us keep vigil with the angels,
O night terrible for the demons,
O night desired by the all the year,
O night that leads the bridal church to her Spouse,
O night that is mother to those enlightened!
O night in which the devil, sleeping, was despoiled,
O night in which the Heir brings the coheirs to their heritage!
Asterius of Pontus (350-410)

Dale Trumbore (b. 1987)

1. Echo’s Histories

from History’s Stories

About the work

Composer Dale Trumbore writes of the entire set History’s Stories:

History’s Stories is a musical puzzle. The first piece (Echo’s Histories for TTBB chorus) and the second piece (Echo’s Stories for SSAA chorus) combine to make up a third SSAATTBB work (History’s Stories), which layers the two previous pieces together without changing a note.

Contemporary poet Diane Thiel’s text for History’s Stories describes the myth of Narcissus and Echo and can be read three ways. Reading just the last word of every line forms a poem (“art allows chance turns…”); the poem can be read as it is on the page; or it can be read with the last word of every line – which “echoes” part of the preceding word – omitted. These three interpretations inspired the three different movements of History’s Stories.


For her song and flight, Echo is torn apart,
flung limb by singing limb. Each valley swallows
her voice. In another tale, a flame enchants
encounters—Narcissus, who never returns,
her love to stone. Rocks, caves, dens, the hollow
of bones become her home—the old echoes,
that round our inner lives like the concentric
rings inside trees, reverberate for years,
Our voices rise and leave, traveling, raveling
currents across the sea, longing to reach
Atlantis, locate shapes that sounds recall—
back the world, as it was first encountered.
Diane Thiel (b. 1979)

Dale Trumbore (b. 1987)

2. Echo’s Stories

from History’s Stories

About the work

Movement #2 of “History’s Stories.” See the program note above for “Echo’s Histories.”



our ears

Diane Thiel (b. 1979)

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

Lead Me, Lord

Performance details

Live premiere.
John Mullan, soloist.

About the work

This anthem, written in 2020 after the onset of the pandemic, is rather unique among Mealor’s work. The piece was written for the Choral Scholars of Truro Cathedral, made up only of altos, tenors, and basses due to the fact that the church follows the historical choral tradition of using young unchanged voices for its soprano section. Because of this, Mealor was required to use only three voices–a true departure from the thicker, eight-part texture more common in his writing. In this three-part texture, though, he never leaves his typical harmonic style, keeping the voices closer together to still allow for clusters. The basses function very differently throughout the piece as well: not only do they sit higher in their range, but they sing more melodic lines, often singing suspensions after the altos announce the main melody. 


Lead me, Lord, lead me in thy righteousness, make thy way plain before my face.
For it is thou, Lord, only, that makest me dwell in safety.
Psalm 5:8 & Psalm 4:8

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth

Performance details

World premiere.
John Mullan, Anya Trudeau, and Austin Nikirk, soloists.

About the work

Written for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee (70th anniversary of accession to the throne) and dedicated to Mark Singleton, director of the New England-based choir Voce, O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth departs a bit from Mealor’s typical homophonic style. Mealor uses the whole tone scale to draw attention to the subject of the text, “our Queen,” followed by a somewhat louder and more freely-moving section on the word “rejoice.” After a section of solos, the piece shifts from minor to major before the amen’s, building slowly to the soprano’s high B-flat on the final chord. (We can’t help adding: before recording it with Lux, Mealor had never heard a live version of this piece.)


O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth our Queen to rejoice in thy strength:
give her heart’s desire, and deny not the request of her lips;
but prevent her with thine everlasting blessing,
and give her a long life, e’en forever and ever. Amen.
After Psalm 21

Intermission 10m


Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal: Four Madrigals On Rose Texts

About the work

The Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal set is among Paul Mealor’s most performed and celebrated works. The fourth and final movement of the set, A Spotless Rose, is one of his best-selling pieces, second only to his Ubi Caritas. Each movement sets a “rose text,” making use of the romantic connotations of roses in the first three movements and more spiritual connotations in the final movement. The attention this set received ensured it would define the compositional style Mealor has become known for: a dense, homophonic texture, using all extremes of the choir’s vocal and dynamic ranges, and using clusters often for added effect or emphasis.

1. Now sleeps the crimson petal

This first movement, which sets the famed unrhymed sonnet of the same name by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is in a sense Mealor’s most well-known work, but not with this title or these words. Instead, it is known as a setting of the Christian Ubi caritas text, because in that form it was sung at the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Middleton and Prince William requested that “Now sleeps the crimson petal” be performed at the wedding, but were told the text was inappropriate for a liturgical event. Mealor canceled his classes at the University of Aberdeen for a short period, working tirelessly over just a few days to adapt the music from “Now sleeps the crimson petal” to the favored Ubi caritas text, and the final version was delivered to the choir (in hand-written manuscript) at the final rehearsal before the wedding. (We are performing it with the original text by Lord Tennyson.)


Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

2. Lady, when I behold the roses sprouting

“Lady when I behold the roses sprouting” creates a full and shimmering texture from the outset. Mealor plays quite a bit with tonality throughout the piece, and especially so when the piece repeats with a nearly bitonal soprano descant soaring over the melody. These dueling tonalities during the repeat express the “double doubting” of the text, which, combined with the “bass drop” in the second section of the piece, gives it an almost-metal feeling.


Lady, when I behold the roses sprouting,
Which clad in damask mantles deck the arbours,
And then behold your lips, where sweet love harbours,
My eyes present me with a double doubting.
For, viewing both alike, hardly my mind supposes
Whether the roses be your lips, or your lips the roses.

3. Upon a bank with roses set about

“Upon a bank with roses set about” creates a much lighter and more playful atmosphere than its counterparts in this set, using its soundscape to put the listener within a pastoral nature scene. In this quickly-moving and quiet piece, one hears the murmuring brook in the opening lines which ripple through the choir, and a bird-call throughout in the sopranos as the basses interrupt the scene when the voice of “wounded love” is made known.


Upon a bank with roses set about,
Where pretty turtles, joining bill to bill,
And gentle springs steal softly murmuring out,
Washing the foot of pleasure's sacred hill;
There little Love sore wounded lies,
His bow and arrows broken,
Bedewed with tears from Venus’ eyes,
O grievous to be spoken.

4. A Spotless Rose

Written in memory of a close friend’s mother, “A Spotless Rose” serves as the emotional heart of this cycle of rose texts, recalling musical material from the previous movements (most notably “Now sleeps the crimson petal”), just before the final “amen” on a lush, low B major chord. The piece was featured in Lux’s second-ever concert, and certainly represents a sort of return home for the group in the context of our first public concert since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


A spotless Rose is growing
Sprung from a tender root, 
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing, 
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light 
Amid the cold, cold winter 
And the dark midnight.

The Rose which I am singing,
Whereof Isaiah said, 
Is from its sweet root springing 
In Mary, purest Maid;  
Through God’s great love and might 
The blessed babe she bare us 
Amid the cold, cold winter 
And the dark midnight.
Anonymous; trans. Catherine Winkworth

Christen Taylor Holmes (b. 2000)

Summer Shower

Performance details

Emily Shallbetter, Ariana Parks, and Logan Santiago, soloists

About the work

Summer Shower was originally composed by Christen Taylor Holmes as a piece for sopranos and altos and was transcribed for mixed choir specifically for Lux. The piece sets the poem “Summer Shower” by Emily Dickinson, a text that describes the arc of a summer rainstorm by comparing it to a party. Holmes characterizes these first few drops of the storm with a simple canon that invokes tension using dissonance. The first time all four voice parts unify in the piece occurs at line six, “That went to help the sea.” This end of the canon parallels Dickinson’s disruption at line six of the parallelism she uses in the first few lines. Holmes describes their work as displaying a commitment to “creating warm harmonies and textures,” which is especially evident in the climax of the piece.


A Drop fell on the Apple Tree—
Another—on the Roof—
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves—
And made the Gables laugh—

A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea—
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls—
What Necklaces could be—

The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads—
The Birds jocoser sung—
The Sunshine threw his Hat away—
The Bushes—spangles flung—

The Breezes brought dejected Lutes—
And bathed them in the Glee—
The Orient showed a single Flag,
And signed the fête away—
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Dale Trumbore (b. 1987)

3. History’s Stories

from History’s Stories

About the work

Movement #3 of “History’s Stories.” See the program note above for “Echo’s Histories.”


For her song and flight, Echo is torn apart, art
flung limb by singing limb. Each valley swallows, allows
her voice. In another tale, a flame enchants chance
encounters—Narcissus, who never returns, turns
her love to stone. Rocks, caves, dens, the hollow hollow
of bones become her home—the old echoes, O’s
that round our inner lives like the concentric trick
rings inside trees, reverberate for years, our ears
Our voices rise and leave, traveling, raveling, veiling
currents across the sea, longing to reach each
Atlantis, locate shapes that sounds recall—call
back the world, as it was first encountered, heard.
Diane Thiel (b. 1979)

Adrian Sims (b. 2000)


Performance details

Live premiere.

About the work

Adrian B. Sims’s Awaken was originally performed by Lux in our Winter 2020 virtual season, Songs From Home. This performance was part of a collaboration with Voices Unheard, a student collective created by Camille Jones at the University of Maryland to celebrate and highlight diversity in the arts. From Sims’s own notes on Awaken: “Based on William Carlos Williams’s poem entitled “On the Road to the Contagious Hospital,” Awaken invokes themes of growth, progress, and prosperity. This work begins in the bleakest of shadows then blossoms into radiant declarations of peace and joy. 2020 [was] an eventful year. Although we've lingered in the shadows, it’s my hope that—similar to how this piece unfolds—we will awaken to greater solutions in order to solve the challenges and injustices within our society.”


Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf [naked, cold, naked, cold]
One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken.
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

Te lucis ante terminum

Performance details

Live premiere.
John Mullan and Emily Shallbetter, soloists.

About the work

Te lucis ante terminum is a setting of a traditional Christian evening prayer hymn. Beginning with chant-like solos in the tenor and alto lines over choral humming, the piece transitions to a mostly homophonic section for the next stanza of the prayer, shifting frequently between major and minor as if to suggest the phantoms and dreams of the text. The last stanza of the piece (a standard invocation of the trinity) reverts to the chant-like structure of the first stanza, but this time passing the chant downwards from the upper voices to the lowest basses.


Te lucis ante terminum
Rerum creator poscimus
Ut solita clementia
Sis praesul ad custodiam.

Procul recedeant somnia,
et noctium phantasmata:
Hostemque nostrum comprime,
ne polluantur corpora.

Praesta, Pater omnipotens
Per Jesum Christum Dominum
Qui tecum in perpetuum
Regnat cum Sancto Spiritu. 


To you, before the end of the light,
Creator of [all] things, we pray,
That your habitual mercy
May be our captain of the watch.

Let dreams depart from us,
And the phantoms of night:
And restrain our enemy,
That our bodies may not be defiled.

Grant this, all-powerful Father,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who with you in eternity
Reigns with the Holy Spirit.

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

Lead, Kindly Light

Performance details

World premiere.
Collin Power, soloist.

About the work

Lead, Kindly Light closes our concert with a moving piece that showcases several of Mealor’s hallmarks, from its rich textured homophony to its wordless, soaring soprano descants. In the text, by John Henry Newman, the narrator pleads for direction out of enveloping darkness while reflecting on youthful mistakes. The piece is dedicated to Dominic Gregorio, a friend of the composer’s who died tragically in 2019, and was commissioned by Gregorio’s mother.


Lead, kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on. O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
John Henry Newman (1801-1890)



  • Amanda Densmoor
  • Austin Nikirk
  • Emily Shallbetter
  • Abigail Winston


  • Jenna Barbieri
  • Ariana Parks
  • Logan Santiago
  • Anya Trudeau


  • John Mullan
  • Robby Napoli
  • John-Paul Teti
  • Adam Whitman


  • Dale Auen
  • Ciaran Cain
  • Collin Power
  • Thomas Rust
  • Han Wagner


Concert Sponsor ($1000+)

  • Anonymous
  • Rick Hale

Patron ($250+)

  • Denise Eggers
  • Davis Healy
  • Jeannette Mendonca
  • Frank & Kathy Napoli
  • Robby Napoli
  • Lenka Shallbetter

Sponsor ($100+)

  • Anonymous
  • Matthew Bowman
  • Allison & John Nikirk
  • Thomas Smith
  • Jason Spiegel
  • John-Paul Teti
  • Max Tirador

Donor ($50+)

  • Jason Edwards
  • Jo Evans
  • Carrie Ieda
  • Hannah Kolarik
  • Kimberly Parr
  • Linda Rigsby
  • Ivette Torres
  • Adam Whitman