In November, 2010 Dr. David Skinner, conductor of the Chapel Choir at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University, asked me to compose a setting of the Oculi Omnium. The Oculi is the ‘Sidney Grace’, recited at high table and other campus ceremonies, and as I was serving a three month term as a Visiting Fellow at Sidney I was honored to accept the challenge. (I have since accepted a five year appointment as Composer-in-Residence).
Some listeners will notice that the ‘amen’ is a direct quote from the end of my i thank You God for most this amazing day. (The entire Oculi is based on those blossoming cluster chords). ‘Oculi Omnium’ means ‘The eyes of all’, and the final line of i thank You God is, ‘now the eyes of my eyes are opened.’ I thought the text and the sense of wonder and awe matched perfectly, thus the quote.
Here’s a video of me conducting the Chapel Choir in the final run-through before the first performance.