This song commemorates the anniversary of the battle of the Somme (1916), in which many New Zealanders fought, and was originally a solo song in Ritchie's oratorio Gallipoli to the Somme (Opus 191).
The poem by Anker tells the story of an old woman, Ellen, remembering her three sons who were killed in World War I. Ellen is a survivor but haunted by her lost sons, and remembers them as she goes about her gardening. Note: Lurgan's linen is a reference to the clothing her sons wore as children.
Ellen's Vigil was composed for Belgian choir Aquarius, for inclusion on the CD Survivors: Choral music of Anthony Ritchie (Atoll, ACD119, to be released April 2018).
This song was composed with financial assistance from The University of Otago.
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