Chris’s Hymn (from ‘the Turing Opera’)

text by Thomas Meyer
Duration: short
Date of Composition: 1988

PROGRAM NOTES: Alan Turing lived through what must be one of the most extraordinary series of personal events in this century.  He provided the theoretical basis for what we know today as the programmable computer.  He played a crucial role in deciphering a code considered so ‘uncrackable’ that never during World War II did the Axis ever suspect it had been broken;  without Turing’s participation the course of and outcome of the War would certainly have been disastrous for Great Britain.  He was tried and found guilty of a crime that no longer exists in England – physical relations with a member of the same sex; and underwent a personally brutal, humiliating, and completely ineffectual course of hormone therapy.  He was found dead having ingested a bite of apple laced with cyanide, age 42.

Chris (Christopher) Morcom was Alan’s closest and perhaps only friend at Sherborne School where they met when Alan was 15 and Chris 16.  Their devotion to each other evolved from a shared passion for the physical world, its measurement, its investigation.  A bond which was broken in the cold, early hours of the 6th of February 1930 when Chris was suddenly rushed off to a hospital where he was to lay half conscious, in extreme pain for almost a week.  He died on the 13th of February.

In the opera, Chris’s Hymn is sung in the school chapel the following morning.  An announcement of Christopher Morcom’s death on that occasion is the first news Alan has of the loss.  This attraction, its presence and absence, will become the emotional and professional touchstone of an extreme and remarkable life, the subject of the Turing Opera.


Blessed life, your unsolvable problem
troubles him no more

We sleep through the starless night while the cold
Shadow of thine unseen hand awakens him
And gone is our love’s shining face
Blessed shepherd, keep him safe.

Splendid life, your unsolvable problem
troubles him no more

Morning clouds his sparkling eyes and these skies
Shadows of thine unseen hand reclaim him
And gone is our love’s shining face
Watchful shepherd, cool his brow.

Holy life, your unsolvable problem
troubles him no more

Lost to us, his gentle heart, now the dark
Shadows of thine unseen hand embrace him
And gone is our love’s shining face
Tender shepherd, care for him.