A cherished and prolific American composer passed away this October. Stephen Paulus (August 24, 1949 – October 19, 2014) was best known for is operas and choral music, much of which have become staples of the repertoire while touching the lives of musicians worldwide. “He had that special spark for the human voice and a real passion for choral music,” said conductor Dale Warland, himself a composer. “He had that combination of great craftsmanship and spirituality.” Such a combination is rare, and when experienced, so powerful.
One of Stephen Paulus’ works has become somewhat of an anthem in my circle of choral music friends. If you mention Pilgrim’s Hymn to Emily or Stephanie or Stephen (or any number of my friends who sang in Choir of the West at PLU) they will smile and recall performances on tour and impromptu singing sessions with good friends. Pilgrim’s Hymn was even sung at the funerals of U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, and I’d like to share the lyrics by Michael Dennis Browne with you. Recordings are available on Youtube, and if you have a chance to sit with this text and listen to the rich beauty, you just might find yourself feeling spiritually more full and definitely thankful for the life of this great composer. The lyrics are on the back page of the newsletter!