In the beginning

  • Composed 1999
  • John 1
  • Peter Burton
  • Scored for SATB and piano
  • Difficulty: Moderate

These are probably the best well known and amazing words of the whole bible. What better words to put to music !

We start with a lilting rhythmic theme on the piano. This idea in the piano runs through the first whole section of the piece progressing through different keys both major and minor.

The sopranos first sing in unison the immortal phrase “In the beginning…” and then the men join, also in unison. This is further built on by the choir singing “He was with God in the beginning” in full harmony.

This idea of build/release continues through the first part of the piece in different keys until we reach the high point of “He gave them right to become children”. An a cappella choir brings us down from this climax until we sing the final words of this section “But born of God”.

We then enter a new theme starting with the words “The Word became flesh”. This section is reminiscent of a lively Irish jig. The piano plays fast running triplets while the choir sing a chorale. It is similar to Bach’s “Sheep may safely graze” but somewhat quicker !

We arrive again at a climax with “Who is with the Father, he has made him known”. This is sung slower for emphasis and acts as a transition back to the original theme. The piano provides an additional bridge.

The original words “In the beginning..” are re-sung and end with full harmony a cappella “He was with God in the beginning”, a fitting reminder that Jesus is fully God and fully man.

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