The Lord Is My Light

The Lord Is My Light
(An Anthem for SATB Chorus & Organ)
Dan Locklair

The Lord Is My Light (An Anthem for SATB Chorus & Organ) is the result of a commission from First Baptist Church on Fifth, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Composed in the late summer and early autumn of 2017, the piece was commissioned in honor of the Rev. George David Williamson and celebrates his twenty years of service as First Baptist on Fifth’s Associate Pastor for Worship and the Arts. The Lord Is My Light sets some of Rev. Williamson’s favorite passages of scripture: Psalm 27:1, 4-5 (KJV) and Isaiah 26: 3-4 (KJV).

The Reverend George David Williamson has been Associate Pastor for Worship and the Arts at First Baptist Church on Fifth since 1 March 1998. The director of the church’s Sanctuary, Youth and Adult Handbell Choirs, Rev. Williamson’s ministry focus, Worship and the Arts, grew out of his desire to use the arts as a tool for spiritual formation and worship. As a result, through the Fifth Street Players, he has helped bring about church and community arts-related programming such as Open Doors Art Classes and exhibits featuring art in a variety of media and dramatic presentations. Among his many contributions to the community, Rev. Williamson has served for many years as Chorus Master for the Winston-Salem Mozart Club’s annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah.

The Lord Is My Light begins with a vibrant organ introduction characterized by a dotted rhythmic motive harmonized by rich chords, an idea that binds the entire anthem together. The entrance of the choir joyously proclaims the first verse of the text (“The Lord is my light…”). A return to the rich chords of the opening organ motive soon folds into a lyrical section (“One thing have I desired of the Lord…”). After reaching a climax point, the opening dotted motive returns, but is altered as it introduces the dark third verse of the text (“For in the time of trouble…”). Soon, reaching a large climax (“…he shall set me up upon a rock.”), the opening organ motive returns, leading to the most peaceful and serene section of the anthem (“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace…”). Sung a cappella, a solo line in the organ emerges with segments of The Sacred Harp (1844) hymn tune, FOUNDATION, a tune most often associated with the hymn text, How Firm A Foundation. Recapitulating the opening of The Lord Is My Light, the anthem soon ends vibrantly as, with full organ, the choir enthusiastically exclaims the final verse of scripture on which the piece is based (“Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”)

Duration: ca. 5’ 30”
Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

4. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

5. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Psalm 27: 1, 4-5 (KJV)

3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

4. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.

Isaiah 26: 3-4 (KJV)