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The Gift of Life


I wrote The Gift of Life early in 2015 as a result of a chance conversation at a choral convention in 2013 with an old friend, Terry Price. He was planning to retire from his position as Minister of Music at a church in Dallas, and his church wanted to give him an appropriate gift to mark his many years of service; I was already thinking I would like to write a fairly substantial new choral work with orchestra, and these two thoughts came together. Terry’s church immediately agreed that this new work would be the right gift, and a theme soon suggested itself: in 1985 I had written a Requiem—which, like any Requiem, inevitably reflects on death—why not write the opposite, a work celebrating life?

Unlike a Requiem, where a set form of words is laid down in Catholic liturgy, no framework exists for a celebration of life, and I had to choose (and in three cases, write) texts which were appropriate to a theme rarely expressed in music. The six movements of The Gift of Life reflect different facets of the miracles of creation and of life, and I was happy to be able to include as the third of them my Hymn to the Creator of Light, originally written in 1992 as an unaccompanied double-choir motet in memory of the composer Herbert Howells on the occasion of the dedication of his new memorial window in Gloucester Cathedral. I had always felt slightly wistful that this piece was somewhat of an orphan on its own, and here was an opportunity to give it a home as part of a larger work. I added a discreet orchestral accompaniment to enrich the texture and to make it more consistent with the other five movements.

I gratefully acknowledge the generosity of David and Miranda Lind who provided funds for the commissioning of The Gift of Life. The score is inscribed ‘in honour of Terry Price and in memory of Alice Marie Lind, commissioned by David and Miranda Lind’.

from notes by John Rutter © 2015


Rutter: The Gift of Life & other sacred music
COLCD138Download only


Movement 1: O all ye works of the Lord
Track 1 on COLCD138 [8'43] Download only
Movement 2: The tree of life
Track 2 on COLCD138 [6'15] Download only
Movement 3: Hymn to the creator of light  Glory be to thee, O Lord
Track 3 on COLCD138 [7'27] Download only
Movement 4: O Lord, how manifold are thy works
Track 4 on COLCD138 [8'09] Download only
Movement 5: The gift of each day
Track 5 on COLCD138 [3'18] Download only
Movement 6: Believe in life
Track 6 on COLCD138 [5'51] Download only

Track-specific metadata for COLCD138 track 2

The tree of life
Recording date
16 July 2015
Recording venue
Fairfield Hall, Croydon, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Thomas Hewitt Jones
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch & Chris Kalcov
Hyperion usage
  1. Rutter: The Gift of Life & other sacred music (COLCD138)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: November 2015
    Download only
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