For lo, I raise up
, Op 145, Stanford’s most dramatic anthem, was composed in 1914. Through the analogy of Habakkuk’s prophetic writings, Stanford sought to express his own sense of horror at the war, of its needless destruction and of future deliverance. This is powerfully evident in the first part of the anthem, set in F minor, in which the restless choral lines are tossed about by the turbulent (quasi-orchestral) organ accompaniment. Yet, although initially Habakkuk’s text (taken from chapters one and two) is infused with a sense of woe, its conclusion is concerned with hope and the fulfilment of God’s purpose. In the certainty that all enemies shall be vanquished with the establishment of God’s order, Habakkuk’s message is one of consolation, a sentiment that is affirmed in Stanford’s climactic cadential phrase ‘We shall not die’. Building on this declaration of spiritual confidence the momentum increases, animated by a sense of divine destiny (‘The vision is yet for the appointed time’) and an impassioned acclamation of faith (‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord’) which is tempered only by the sudden and compelling stillness of the coda (‘But the Lord is in his holy temple’). Here the memories of violence and dread are dissolved in a vision of peace and awe.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 1998