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In The Wide Awe And Wisdom Of The Night - by Paul Halley
Publication Details

  Catalogue Number -

Voicing/Instrumentation -
SATB Choir with
Organ accompaniment

Level of Difficulty -
Moderate (Octotonic scale

Uses/Season -
Concert, Festival, Service

Perusal score pdf can be viewed while listening simultaneously to
audio track below.
Duration -
8:30 mins

Pages Music -
15 pages music - 24 page booklet
Format -
choral octavo

Copyright Year - 2017

perusal score
SATB perusal - pages 1-3 of 15

PEL2097 "In The Wide Awe And Wisdom Of The Night"

Composer’s Notes for “In The Wide Awe And Wisdom Of The Night”
On reading Roberts’ sonnet, the phrase “obedient unto laws/That utter the eternal thought of Him” stuck with me. I can only assume it was those ‘laws’ that sent me into the octatonic realm.

The octave of the sonnet is set to music that adheres rigorously to this octatonic scale. The opening three lines of the sestet, “I compassed time…” still use the octatonic scale but in a more ‘romantic’ way. It was not until the fourth line of the sestet (the twelfth line of the poem) that I allowed myself the full use of all twelve tones – “At last I came before Him face to face”. For each iteration of this phrase the choir sings, in unison, the four tones ‘missing’ from the octatonic scale – F, G# (or Ab), B, and D. This section ends emphasizing the diminished chord made up of these four notes.

The piece concludes with the repetition of the opening line “In the wide awe and wisdom of the night” with its recurring octatonic theme sung by the choir, but this time accompanied on the organ by all the tonal means available. After the choir fades out the organ returns to the strict octatonic patterns with which the piece began. The night sky has not changed while the poet’s soul has been transformed.


Commissioned by Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, Toronto, to commemorate the school's 25th anniversary.

Remarkably coincidental with the completion of this commission by Paul Halley, NASA announced a breakthrough discovery.

In a press release on February 22, 2017, NASA announced the discovery of the most Earth-sized planets found in the habitable zone of a single star, called TRAPPIST-1. This system of seven rocky worlds–all of them with the potential for water on their surface–is an exciting discovery in the search for life on other worlds. There is the possibility that future study of this unique planetary system could reveal conditions suitable for life.

This artist's concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets' diameters, masses and distances from the host star, as of February 2018. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


In The Wide Awe And Wisdom
PEL1006 CD

In The Wide Awe And Wisdom Recording by Paul Halley

YouTube - 8:31
In The Wide Awe and Wisdom Of The Night 
Words: Charles G.D. Roberts
: P. Halley
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Choral score SATB/organ  
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Choral score SATB/organ  
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SATB Choral Published
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In The Wide Awe And Wisdom Of The Night

In the wide awe and wisdom of the night
I saw the round world rolling on its way,
Beyond significance of depth or height,
Beyond the interchange of dark and day.
I marked the march to which is set no pause,

And that stupendous orbit, round whose rim
The great sphere sweeps, obedient unto laws
That utter the eternal thought of Him.
I compassed time, outstripped the starry speed,
And in my still soul apprehended space,

Till, weighing laws which these but blindly heed,
At last I came before Him face to face, --
And knew the Universe of no such span
As the august infinitude of Man.

Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts (1860 – 1943)