The piece is an unusual one, an oratorio by Sir Michael Tippett, a modern English composer. It was written by a pacifist during the early days of World War II, and the text is a mix of lyrics that he himself wrote and African-American spirituals ("Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen", "Go Down Moses", "Deep River", etc.) The spirituals are gorgeous and a lot of fun to sing. The original text parts are complex, broken up into short sections, and, in many places, not particularly melodic ("crunchy"), all of which makes it difficult to learn. I am coming to like parts of it, but it will never be my favorite choral work.
Tonight, though, after we made our progress through our nasty crunchy bits, we finished up with a setting of "Deep River" that is totally gorgeous. It nearly brings tears to my eyes in places. I'm glad it's last -- when I'm up on the stage, pushing my way through the concert, I love knowing that I have something completely awesome to look forward to.
"I would know my shadow and my light, so shall I at last be whole."