Geraint Lewis: The souls of the righteous

At our evensong services this coming weekend we will be singing ‘The souls of the righteous’ by Geraint Lewis as the anthem, in recognition of Remembrance Day. 

Geraint Lewis (b. 1958) is a Welsh composer who studied at St John’s College Cambridge, and upon graduating was appointed to the music staff of the University of Wales, Bangor (pictured), where he worked alongside composer William Mathias. 

Lewis’ anthem ‘The souls of the righteous’ is a moving tribute to his former colleague and friend. In the composer’s own words: 

‘This work was suggested by a request from Nina Walker for an All Souls’ anthem for 1992. I started work before Christmas 1991 and showed the part that I had completed to William Mathias during one of my many visits to see him in Anglesey. He liked what he heard and urged me to complete it. I held back however and put it to one side. A month later Mathias was diagnosed as having terminal cancer and given six months to live. I visited him every other week during this time (travelling from Monmouth to Menai Bridge) and he died on 29 July 1992. … We then planned a Service of Thanksgiving for his life and works in St Paul’s Cathedral. John Scott suggested that I write a work for the service (which otherwise consisted entirely of Mathias’s music—much of it with St Paul’s connections) and so I went back to my setting of The souls of the righteous and completed it as a tribute to my closest friend and colleague. The text is from Wisdom and is variously a collect for All Saints—eve of All Souls. Mathias was born on 1 November 1945—All Saints’ Day—and All Souls’ Day is 2 November.’ 

We will be singing this anthem at evensong services at Pilgrim at 5pm on Sat 12 Nov, and at St Peter’s Cathedral at 6pm on Sun 13 Nov. 

Source: William McVicker, 1999, The souls of the righteous, Sleeve notes, Hyperion Records. 

Photo: Paul Simpson / Alamy Stock Photo 

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