Keep Watch, Dear Lord


A reverent setting of the beloved evening prayer, “Keep Watch, Dear Lord.” A comforting, settling melody unfolds over full and flowing chordal textures, then builds in strength and rises in tessitura to reflect the presence of angels at the text “and give your angels charge o’er those who sleep.” The phrase “O tend the sick, Lord Christ” opens a contrasting middle section that crescendos to a heartfelt plea for healing.  The piece comes full circle and closes as it began, with the main phrase of the soothing melody repeating in various voices in a quieting coda.

A licensed copy is required for each member performing.


My friend Will Goldman convened the commissioning of this anthem in a lovely act of kindness toward an ailing family friend and church choir colleague. The words of this beloved prayer from the Book of Common Prayer are beautiful, and set with ease in their clarity of structure — internal rhymes, natural rhythms, and consistent patterns:
Keep watch, dear Lord, o’er those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge o’er those who sleep.  O tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
This was the first piece I composed during the pandemic, which made these particular already-meaningful words all the more poignant; there were examples all around of those working tirelessly on behalf of others, those watching and keeping vigil over ailing loved ones, and those weeping in their sudden grief. An ancient prayer became a perfect prayer for the present moment, and the original words of another easily became my own.

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SATB a cappella

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