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This song cycle was written for noted young Taiwanese baritone Lin Chung Guang. The songs are all from an anthology of poetry about the night. Each of the selected texts explores a facet of the hours of darkness, ranging from the spiritual to the amorous. The final lines of the final song encapsulate the ideas behind the cycle: 'pondering the themes thou lovest best: night, sleep, death and the stars.' The first two songs are translations of poems by Else Lasker Schuler (1869-1945). The first is a prayer, but with a bitter edge to it. The second is a love song. The middle song of the cycle sets one of the best-known poems by Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939). This is another love song, set here in the ecstatic key of F sharp major. The fourth song is by Robert Hillyer (1895-1961), and uses musical imagery to paint a picture of the sounds of the night. The final song is by American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892), and in its brief text sets forth some of what happens to one's thoughts at midnight.
Written for Lin Chung Guang, Taiwan
1. Lord, Listen
2. A Love Song
3. He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
5. A Clear Midnight
First text by Else Lasker Schuler (translated by Edouard Roditi); second text by Else Lasker Schuler (translated by Michael Gillespie); third text by W.B. Yeats; fourth text by Robert Hillyer; and fifth text by Walt Whitman