I Remember – Sara Quartel (1982-present)

Sarah Quartel is a Canadian composer and educator, known for her fresh and exciting approach to choral music, and I was first introduced to her work in August 2021. I was at the Sing for Pleasure summer school for choral conductors, where every conductor is required to sing in choirs for other choral conductors. We sing a huge amount of music through the 10-day course. A group of six peers had been assigned pieces by Quartel for upper voices (soprano and alto), and I was in their choir. I bought a copy of the songbook we used that week, and was browsing the other pieces in it. “I Remember” leapt out at me. It is perfect for times of loss and remembering. The lyrics are beautiful:

I remember days of sunshine, days of rain.

I remember knowing spring will come again.

And when I sing, I remember all the wonder I have seen:

Waters reaching the horizon, waves that carry you and me.

I remember this, my friend.

I remember golden summers when corn is high.

I remember branches reaching to the sky.

And when I sing, I remember all the harvests of the field,

Fruits of love that lie in waiting, all the bounty now revealed.

I remember this, my friend.

In my song there’s a race through a wild green meadow,

The sunshine so bright in my eyes.

In my song there’s a day by the cool of the water,

Knowing that you’re by my side again.

I remember all the loved ones I have known.

I remember all they’ve taught me, how I’ve grown.

When I sing, I remember many lives that share my song,

Brought together in a moment, finding somewhere to belong.

And I remember you, my friend.

There wasn’t time to teach the song to our parish singing group in time for the All Souls service that year, so I sang it as a solo, accompanied by Tom. As I write, our singers are working hard to learn the alto harmonies and the descant counter melody in time for the season of remembrance. If it was ready, you’ll have heard them sing “I Remember” on 2 November, at our All Souls service. If it wasn’t, I’ll have sung it as a solo again!

We have endured so much loss in our parish this year. For me, songs like this help. Our lives are touched by everyone we meet. We carry them with us into the future, with love. Whichever way this song is performed this month, it will be a privilege.

Carol P

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