Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind

Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind


an anthem for chorus (with divisi and soprano solo) and organ (7')

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Winner of a First Prize in the King James Bible Composition Awards, adjudicated by James MacMillan, Bill Ives, James O'Donnell, Roxanna Panufnik, and William Mival.

Performed by the choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by James O'Donnell, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

Completed in January, 2011.

World premiere on May 17, 2011 by the Royal College of Music Junior Department Chamber Choir, directed by Joy Hill, in the Temple Church, London. Performed by the choir of Westminster Abbey, directed by James O'Donnell, on November 16, 2011.

Text: from the book of Job: 37:9-11, 14; 38:25-31, 34-35; 36:5, 26, 29-30 (King James Version)

Published: Novello New Choral Series #NOV200849


The King James Bible offers passages both of unmatched poetry and of real drama; rarely are the two so well balanced as they are in the book of Job. Here, religious doubt is challenged by the glory and grandeur of the natural world. In Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind, lines from the book of Job chart a trajectory from doubt toward belief.

At the opening, chant-like melodies grow from a single pitch in the organ into forte proclamations of the majesty of the "wondrous works of God." But doubt soon invades, painted with nervously quivering lines from the altos and basses, as the choir ponders the provenance of water in its many forms. The organ's tense opening drones then return but are quickly diffused by a voice from beyond, a treble solo, which asks who other than God could bring forth rain. In the end the choir joyfully celebrates both the power and the mystery of God, and the anthem ends in quiet contemplation.

Zachary Wadsworth’s Out of the south cometh the whirlwind is a highly imaginative and compelling addition to the choir and organ repertoire and it would serve as an unusually dramatic and arresting anthem at Evensong.
— Jeremy Summerly, Choir & Organ