"These Distracted Times" is based on the poem by Ernest Dowson: “Vitae summa brevis" of 1896:
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter, Love and desire and hate: I think they have no portion in us after We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses: Out of a misty dream Our path emerges for a while, then closes Within a dream.
I had begun previously setting these words, but abandoned the idea, instead using the material as backbone for this movement. Hence there is a kind of 'literary homeopathy' inherent in this music, the unsung words having created the initial structure, and the themes within it.
This movement also includes musical references to music by Thomas Tomkins, born locally and one-time organist in the cathedral: 'A Sad Pavan for these distracted times' written on February 14th, 1649.