How do I love thee?

I have been commissioned to write a piece, for girls choir and organ, for my friend Phillippa Cairns wedding to Mark Somerville. You will have met her on this site if you have listened to “The Greatest” or “What Is Man?” This is a great honour, and I am looking forward to setting the chosen text – Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” It is such a beautifully non-cliched statement of love, see for yourself:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace,
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints.
I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

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