29. Wedding cantata (4 songs)

Whole cantata in one document or file:

See/Hear/Download: Score (PDF)     MIDI (70 KB)     MP3 (12 MB)     Sibelius5

Or, obtain as separate songs:

1. Marriage morning: Score (PDF)     MIDI (21 KB)     MP3 (3.3 MB)     Sibelius5

2. It's all I have: Score (PDF)     MIDI (18 KB)     MP3 (3.5 MB)     Sibelius5

3. The privileged lovers: Score (PDF)     MIDI (20 KB)     MP3 (2.6 MB)     Sibelius5

4. A Faery song: Score (PDF)     MIDI (14 KB)     MP3 (2.9 MB)     Sibelius5

Musicians: SATB chorus (or 4 soloists), and piano.

Length: 3:30 + 3:42 + 2:44 + 3:06 = ~13 minutes.

Program notes:

This cantata is dedicated to Jean M. Campbell, my lovely wife since 1972.

The words of four very famous (but very different) poets are forged into one whole:

1. Marriage morning (Alfred, Lord Tennyson): Symbolically, this could be the groom's song. On his wedding morning, he is tinged with the attributes of a young, vigorous sky-god like Apollo: light and speed. But, being human, he also has doubts and fears which he must overcome before hurrying to his appointment.

2. It's all I have to bring today (Emily Dickinson): The bride's song? She is painted with Earth-goddess attributes of quiet strength, beauty, and fertility, like Demeter. Imagine her accompanied by handmaidens, deer, rabbits, birds, bees, etc.

3. The privileged lovers (Rumi): This forsees how the bride and groom will dance as a couple, displaying their vigor and passion. Two compound rhythms typical of wedding dances in the near East are used: 3-2-2-2, and 3-3-2-2.

4. A Faery song (William Butler Yeats): In Irish mythology, the Aes Sidhe (Tuatha de Danann) are tall, dignified, and ancient, like Tolkein's elves. Although generally aloof, they occasionally take an interest in extraordinary humans. Here, they symbolically represent the parents, grandparents, and other married friends and supporters of the new couple, blessing them and wishing them peace and happiness.

The last words, "Thousands of years, thousands of years, if all were told..." emphasize that the rituals and emotions involved in weddings are as old as human civilization.

Texts:

1. Marriage morning

Light, so low upon earth,
You send a flash to the sun.
Here is the golden close of love;
All my wooing is done.
Oh, all the woods and the meadows:
Woods where we hid from the wet,
Stiles where we stayed to be kind,
Meadows in which we met!
Light, so low in the vale,
You flash and lighten afar,
For this is the golden morning of love
And you are his morning star.
Flash, I am ready; I start
By meadow and stile and wood.
Oh, lighten into my eyes and my heart,
Into my heart and my blood!
Heart, are you great enough
For a love that never tires?
O heart, are you great enough for love?
(I have heard of thorns and briers.)
Over the thorns and briers,
Over the meadows and stiles,
Over the world to the end of it;
Flash of a million miles.

2. It's all I have to bring today

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

3. The privileged lovers

The moon is now a dancer
at this festival of love;
This dance of light,
This sacred blessing.
Divine love beckons us
to a world arising new
for these lovers with their
eyes of fiery passion.
Chosen ones who
have surrendered!
Once only a light;
now they are sunbeams reunited!
They have left behind
the world of foolish games.
Divine love beckons us
to a world arising new
for these lovers with their
eyes of fiery passion!

4. A Faery song

WE who are old, old and gray,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love;
And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then:
Us who are old, old and gray,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told.

Performance notes:

This music not difficult. There are no solos, no long unaccompanied passages, no chromatic passages, no distant key changes, and the ranges are not challenging. My hope is that this cantata can be learned in a modest number of rehearsals, and that it will be rewarding to sing.
As part of a wedding, this cantata can be performed by four professional singers (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) and a pianist who will set the tempi. Alternatively, this cantata can be performed as a concert piece by a whole SATB chorus, led by a director, and supported by a pianist.

[Macedonian wedding procession]

Macedonian wedding procession

[John Ruskin at Glenfinlas]

1. Marriage morning
John Ruskin at Glenfinlas, by John Everett Millais, 1854

[Masque of the Four Seasons]

2. It's all I have to bring today
detail from Masque of the Four Seasons, by Walter Crane

[Embracing lovers with sparklers]

3. The privileged lovers
Embracing lovers with sparklers, Oudh, 1775

[Ossian on the Lora]

4. A Faery song
Ossian on the Lora, by Francois Pascal Simon Gerard, 1801

Fresh Choral Music Online, by Peter Bird of Los Angeles