Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, a British composer and musician who was recently chosen to write a special anthem in celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III on 6 May 2023, has been commissioned by Churchill College to compose a grace setting for the Inter Alios choir to sing at College Feasts.

Gratias agimus pro cibo will be the first setting of the new secular Grace that was adopted by Churchill College in 2022, and written by Churchill College Fellows Benedikt Löwe (Mathematics) and Jerry Toner (Classics). The previous College Grace, traditionally said at the beginning of College dinners, went back to 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary. In 2022, the College adopted the new non-religious Grace.

The new Grace was developed from the Gelasian grace while remaining recognisable as its descendant, and can be shortened to either the first line or the first two lines. Reflecting this link to the traditional Grace, the composer describes the piece as being “gospel-inflected”. The new sung Grace will be given its world premiere on the 28th of February 2023 at the Benefactor’s Feast.

Gratias agimus pro cibo

quem sumus sumpturi

optamusque ut illo salubriter nutriti

 nostrum debitum obsequium praestare valeamus

 rerumque cognoscamus causas.

We give thanks for the meal

Which we are about to receive

 and hope that being by it healthfully nourished

we may be enabled to show our bounden duty

 and may know the causes of things.

Director of Music, Dr Ewan Campbell will direct Churchill College’s Inter Alios choir, one of the most inclusive choirs among the Cambridge colleges, for the debut performance of the piece, and hopes to make a recording of the Grace setting later in the year.