Composer and Arranger
for SSAATTBB a cappella
- SSAATTBB a cappella
- London, 2016
- Lumen Chamber Choir, 2018, dir. Benjamin Thiele-Long
- The Fourth Choir, 2018, dir. Dominic Ellis-Peckham
- Lumen de Lumine, 2018, Lumen Chamber Choir, dir. Benjamin Thiele-Long, Convivium Records
- Author of the text
- W.H. Auden
- Copyright of the text
- Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Copyright © 1940. All Rights Reserved.
- 6 m 40 s
- Preview score
About the poem
Lullaby is a love poem by W.H. Auden, addressed to the speaker’s sleeping lover. It speaks of the fleeting nature of youth, the imperfections of humanity, and the hardships of life and love. Although much of the imagery appears bleak, it is unapologetic and realist. Ultimately, a tender and protective love is felt throughout, with which the speaker seeks to guard his lover from the troubles of the world, and to love him despite both of their human frailties.
About the poet
Wystan Hugh Auden (1907–1973) is considered one of the finest poets of the 20th century, with an extraordinary breadth of poetic styles, forms and subject matters found in his works. He was born in England and lived in Germany and the United States. He was a long-time friend and collaborator, and sometime lover of Christopher Isherwood.
He was awarded the National Medal for Literature in the United States in 1967, with the selection committee declaring that his poetry “has illuminated our lives and times with grace, wit and vitality. His work, branded by the moral and ideological fires of our age, breathes with eloquence, perception and intellectual power.”
The 54 time signature is not to be taken mechanically. The piece should flow at a spoken pace, with a calm rubato, where minims are generally more broad and spacious, and groups of adjacent crotchets are given a slight accelerando.
Some caesuras are marked explicitly, but other phrases may naturally call for a short breathing space or gentle ritardando, lest the next line feel too rushed. Likewise, there should be no breaths between certain phrases where the flow of the text would be interrupted.
In the second verse (between figures A and B), the first Soprano part is a descant which should not be louder than the melody in the second Soprano part.
Lullaby, by W.H. Auden
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Copyright © 1940. All Rights Reserved.
I am thrilled to announce the launch of the album, Lumen de Lumine, by Lumen, a chamber choir in London.
This is the result of a fantastic crowdfunded project which aims to promote the work of new and emerging choral composers.
The album features my piece, Lullaby, a setting of a poem by W.H. Auden.
Lullaby was featured on BBC Radio 3’s
In Tune programme on 12 October 2018.
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