Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vaughan Williams and Herbert

Ralph Vaughan Williams (pronounced "rafe vawn") is one of my favorite composers. His music is rich, British, and evocative. Vaughan Williams probably best known for his Fantasia on Greensleeves and the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, which was used extensively in the film Master and Commander. However, tonight I want to share with you the lyrics to one of his Five Mystical Songs.

Five Mystical Songs is a lesser known work by Vaughan Williams in which he set five poems by the fifteenth century poet George Herbert to music for baritone. I once had the privilege of singing in the chamber choir that accompanies some of the songs for a friend's senior recital. It was an unforgettable experience, and Glen Graham is probably the best male vocalist I will ever have the privilege to sing with.
"Love Bade Me Welcome"

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, you shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who make the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat.
So I did sit and eat.
Lyrics taken from the jacket of a Vaughn Williams CD on the Hyperion label.

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