Angels (Two Short Tone Poems for Organ)

Angels (Two Short Tone Poems for Organ) was commissioned by the Mid-Atlantic 2019 Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists, SouthWest and SouthEast Jersey Chapters, New Jersey. World Premiere organist: Alan Morrison.

Completed in September 2018, the two movements that make up Angels may be played together as a short suite or performed separately. Although it is unusual for organ works to reflect the nineteenth-century “tone poem” genre, the term is used here because of the extra-musical stimulus that inspired each piece.

  1. Angels of Tranquility takes its extra-musical inspiration from the following words: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalm 91:11 [KJV]). Symbolizing descent of heaven to earth, the primary harmonic and melodic motion of the piece is downward. This descending, five-bar chromatic section then repeatedly alternates with an aria. The aria itself is underpinned by a downward chromatic bass line. Although the piece begins softly on the strings of the organ, Angels of Tranquility builds to a rich climax, only to conclude quietly with the same registration on which it began.
  2. Angels of Joy was inspired by these words: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength…” (Psalm 103:20 [KJV]). A vibrant toccata in three primary sections, Angels of Joy begins with rhythmical dialoguing between the manuals, which quickly leads to the opening section of the piece. In this section, the pedal line supports the rich and vibrant harmonies of the manuals. The middle section is more lyrical in nature and, as in Angels of Tranquility, the harmonic motion is downward. In the third section the material of the opening section returns. However, this time the same pedal line that previously only supported the harmonies in the manuals of the opening section is now prominently heard on the pedal reeds. Only now it reveals that it is the primary melodic material of the piece and that it is rooted in the melodic material of Angels of Tranquility. Angels of Joy concludes with the power of full organ.

Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

1. ca. 4’ 15”
2. ca. 2’ 15”
Total duration = ca. 6’ 30”

To the performer: Although registration suggestions are given for a larger instrument, Angels can be effectively performed on a two-manual organ.