John Gordon Armstrong

Canadian Composer


O God

O God is a setting of Ottawa poet Susan McMaster’s poem from her 1997 collection Uncommon Prayer. It was commissioned  by the Cantata Singers of Ottawa, with the combined support of the Laidlaw Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council, for a benefit concert in aid of the Cantata Singers and WaterCan.

O God is not a religious text in the usual sense; the poetry of Uncommon Prayer explores spiritual meaning in everyday objects and events. Using a variety of nature metaphors, O God is a direct plea to powerful and fearsome God to “rebirth us, ” to “burn me clean.” The composer’s intent was to produce a stirring, powerful piece appropriate to the text.

O God was premiered on Nov. 10, 2000 at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, by the Cantata Singers of Ottawa directed by Laurence Ewashko. In 2007, I adapted O God to become the final movement in Uncommon Prayers for mezzo soprano, SATB and orchestra.

Composed in 2000 for SATB and organ
Duration: 7 minutes
Very good amateur choir/Very accessible
Published: Canadian Music Centre (Toronto)