Listen: Brethren

Brethren, beginning

“The battle will not cease,” Brethren

"Before humanity's bewilder'd host," Brethren

“Lead us, immortal Brethren,” Brethren

”It is like the precious ointment,” Brethren

”Even life forevermore,” Brethren

From the archival recording of the world premiere, performed by the Wheaton College Men's Glee Club under the direction of Dr. Mary Hopper.

Brethren audio courtesy of the Wheaton College Men's Glee Club and Paul Ayres.

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.



Paul Ayres was born in London, studied music at Oxford University, and now works freelance as a composer and arranger, choral conductor and musical director, organist and accompanist. His compositions usually involve words—solo songs, choral pieces, music for theatre productions—and he is particularly interested in working with pre-existing music, from arrangements of folksongs, hymns, jazz standards and nursery rhymes to ‘re-compositions’ of classical works, as in Purcell’s Funeral Sentence, 4A Wreck and Messyah. New pieces have been commissioned by the BBC Singers, the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Concordia Youth Choir, The Esoterics, Texas Lutheran University, Wartburg College, Wheaton College and Alexandria Choral Society.

Paul is the regular conductor of City Chorus, the London College of Music choirs and the Walbrook Singers, and he is the associate accompanist of Crouch End Festival Chorus. He has led many education workshops for children, played piano for improvised comedy shows and musical theatre, and has given solo organ recitals in the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, North America and Australia.

For complete biographical information, please visit Paul Ayres website.


Paul Ayres

Men’s voices (tenor, baritone, bass), organ & 3 cellos (or organ alone)
DURATION: 8.5 minutes
TEXT: Psalm 133 and “The Great Twin Brethren” poem by Katharine Lee Bates
Reflective choral work with contrasting interlude, written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club.


World Premiere
March 2007
"Brown, cello
Leah Johnson, cello
Priscilla Choi, cello
Mary Hopper, conductor
Wheaton College
Wheaton, IL

Wheaton College Men's Glee Club, Dr. Mary Hopper, conductor, performing the world premiere of Brethren  

Commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, British composer Paul Ayres wrote Brethren for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club (Wheaton, IL), in honor of Director Emeritus Clayton Halvorsen.

The work is scored for men’s voices, pipe organ and a trio of cellos, and is based on a pairing of texts from Psalm 133 and “The Great Twin Brethren,” a poem by Katharine Lee Bate’s (author of “America the Beautiful”).





“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
—Psalm 133:1 (King James Version, 1611)

“Guide us, immortal Brethren, Love and Peace.”
—“The Great Twin Brethren” by Katharine Lee Bates


In considering the first line of the Psalm text, Ayres chose to create a somewhat mysterious beginning of the music because the line could be interpreted in several ways. In addition to the positive interpretation of unity among brethren, Ayres also wanted to imply the “conditional tense: ‘how good and how pleasant if brethren were to dwell together in unity!’ ” In addition, Ayres utilized not only an English translation of the Psalm text, but also included Hebrew and Arabic transliterations in the piece.

The title of Bate’s poem, “The Great Brethren,” drew Ayres’ attention, in addition to the contrasting imagery that the poem suggests. The first and third sections of Brethren based on the Psalm text, are more reflective, while the middle section, using the text from Bates’ poem, is more lively.

  Dr. Mary Hopper conducting the Wheaton College Men's Glee Club

The Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club performed the world premiere of Paul Ayres' Brethren under the direction of Dr. Mary Hopper on March 24, 2007, at their annual spring concert at Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois.

“[Ayres] vocal writing is exquisitely sensitive to the texts, and the accompaniments are strikingly varied in both technique and tone.”—Kallisti Music Press

“A versatile and sensitive composer, equally at home in a wide variety of styles.” —Church Times