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New music at Lincoln’s Inn – commissions and concerts

In 2014 Lincoln’s Inn began a project to commission new choral works based on the writings of John Donne. In 2023, three of these will be performed for the first time – part of Chapel’s 400th anniversary celebrations.

The Lincoln's Inn Choir singing in Chapel

The basis for this commissioning project was Donne’s poem The Litanie, likely written by the poet as he was recovering from serious illness between 1609 and 1610. The 28 stanzas of the poem are personal reflection by Donne, an internal dialogue of thankfulness for recovery.

Since the project’s inception, the Inn has received commissions from Richard Allain, Kerensa Briggs, John Casken, Jonathan Dove, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Cheryl Francis-Hoad, Matthew Martin, Daniel Saleeb and Alex Woolf at approximately yearly intervals. Our commissioned composers have responded to the challenges of language and meaning that this poem present in different ways and the extraordinary range of colour and emotion that has been achieved is fascinating.

The first stanza, written by Jonathan Dove, was performed in 2016 and since then nine settings have been completed – three of these commissions will be performed for the first time in 2023, forming part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Consecration of Chapel.

Ascension Day Concert (18 May)

We invite you to join us for Donne in 1623, a free 50-minute concert on Thursday 18 May at 6 pm. Sung by the Chapel Choir, with William Whitehead (Associate Organist) and Nicholas Shaw directing, the programme will be a celebration of composers associated with 1623 on the 400th anniversary of the dedication of the Chapel.

The concert will include sacred and secular music by William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes who both died in 1623 together with extracts from Johann Schein’s ‘The Fountains of Israel’ published in the same year. We also celebrate John Donne’s part in both commissioning the new Chapel and preaching at its dedication with settings of his Litanie commissioned by Lincoln’s Inn, including the first performance of The Trinity by Kerensa Briggs.

You don’t have to be a highbrow choral enthusiast to enjoy this concert! If you are a fan of quality music then come along and be entertained.

A drinks reception will follow the concert. We kindly request that, if you intend to stay for the drinks reception, please email the Chapel Clerk to inform us in advance. Thank you.

Donne Anthem Commission for Young People (15 June)

The commissioning series temporarily departs from the Litanie for this exciting project with a group of talented and diverse young singers, Hackney Children’s Choir, directed by Tom Daggett.

Janet Wheeler has written a new work – Be This Thine Ark – based on a portion of text that Donne preached at the new Chapel’s dedication service on Ascension Day in 1623. It will have its first full performance at a free concert on Thursday 15 June at 6.30 pm when we will welcome the Hackney Children’s Choir to the Inn to perform this and other works alongside the Inn’s choir.

Hackney Children’s Choir was founded as an offshoot of the music outreach work that St Paul’s Cathedral does in the local community, and it will be excellent to join the Inn and the Cathedral musically to mirror these two periods of John Donne’s life.

Everyone is welcome at this free 45-minutes concert in Chapel, which will be followed by a light drinks reception. Join us for a celebration of music making and hear this brand new Donne Commission.

400th Anniversary Celebration (18 October)

The last of our new commissions to premiere in 2023 will be by Joanna Marsh. It receives its first performance at Chapel’s Special Anniversary Celebration Service on 18 October 2023 at 6 pm at which the Dean of St Paul’s will preach.

More details about this special service, which will be followed by Dinner in Hall, can be found here.

Beyond 2023…

The series of concerts featuring Donne commissions will continue past the 400th anniversary year and we hope that you will join us to hear it.

Keep an eye on our Chapel Music page or the What’s On calendar for details.