Films, Audio & Samples
Sample: pages 1–2 of 'I. The Starlight Night'See details ➔
Sample: pages 1–2 of 'III. What of the Night'See details ➔
Sample: pages 1–2 of 'VI. A Clear Midnight'See details ➔
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Following Night Songs (2002) and This Shining Night (Night Songs II) (2013), this set of six songs again explores the theme of the night and our relationship with the nocturnal hours. The texts are by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Francis Quarles, Ada Cambridge, William Bliss Carman and two from Walt Whitman.
Hopkins’ sonnet “The Starlight Night” describes the importance of looking at the stars and appreciating God’s creation in one’s everyday life. Quarles’ poem “A Good Night” is a lullaby, and suggests that even the concerns of kings become nothing when sleep beckons.
Although English by birth, Ada Cambridge spent much of her life in Australia. Her poem “What of the Night” is descriptive of a range of things one might see or hear at night, before the arrival of dawn. William Bliss Carman’s “The Heart of Night” focuses on the stars and talks of how we observe them with ‘speechless awe’, and how the majesty of nature makes humanity seem small by comparison.
The final two poems are both by Walt Whitman. The brief “Look Down, Fair Moon” asks the moon to shine its light on a rather ghastly scene below – the poem refers to ‘,,,the dead, on their backs, with their arms toss'd wide…’. “A Clear Midnight” uses metaphor to describe the transition from an earthly corporeal life, to a spiritual one. It may also be seen as a poem to comfort those who are left behind when someone dies. The final line beautifully sums up the themes of these song cycles: “night, sleep, death and the stars”.
Night Songs II was the winning work in the 2021 Delta Omicron Composition Competition (USA).
Six songs for baritone and piano:
I. The Starlight Night
II. A Good Night
III. What of the Night?
IV. The Heart if Night
V. Look Down, Fair Moon
VI. A Clear Midnight