Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)
She was an English composer of Irish descent who studied with, inter alia, Charles Wood and Vaughan Williams, and was encouraged by Grace Williams, Dorothy Gow and Ina Boyle. An important influence was Bartok.
Sun Moon and Stars
A set of four songs for soprano and piano, all setting words by Thomas Traherne.
Song no.1 sets line from Centuries of Meditations III (2,3 and 26)
All appeared New and Strange at first, inexpressibly rare, and Delightful, and Beautiful. The Streets were mine, the Temple was mine, the People were mine, and so were the Sun and Moon and Stars, and all the World was mine. All Things were Spotles and Pure and Glorious: yea, and infinitly mine, and Joyfull and Precious. But little did the Infant Dream that all the Treasures of the World were by: And that Himself was so the Cream and Crown of all, which round about did lie.
Song no.2 sets lines from an untitled poem found in Philip Traherne’s notebook.
Rise noble soule and come away;
Lett us no longer wast the day:
Come lett us hast to yonder Hill,
where Pleasures fresh are growing still.
The way at first is rough and steep;
And something hard for to ascend:
But on the Toppe do Pleasures keep
And Ease and Joyes doe still attend.
Come lett us goe: and doe not fear
the hardest way, while I am neer.
My heart with thine shall mingled bee;
Thy sorrowes mine, my Joyes with Thee.
Rise and come away.
Song no.3 sets lines from Traherne’s poem Solitude.
Ah! how forlorn, how desolate.
how sadly did I stand
When in the field my woful State
I felt! Not all the Land,
Not all the Skies,
Tho Heven shin’d before mine Eys,
Could Comfort yield in any Field to me,
Nor could my Mind Contentment find or see.
Felicity! O where O where
Shall I thee find to eas my Mind! O where!
Song no.4 sets words from Centuries of Meditations I (29 & 30).
You never Enjoy the World aright....till you are Clothed (sic) with the Stars. Till your Spirit filleth the whole World, and the Stars are your Jewels.
Published: Chester Music 1978
1. Alison Smart (soprano) and Katharine Durran (piano); Metier MSV CD92025.
2. Tracey Chadwell (soprano) and Pamela Lidiard (piano), in “Tracey Chadwell’s Songbook”; British Music Society, BMS CD 420/421 CD