Two Songs from Heaven (2023)

Composed for the Constellation Men’s Ensemble

Duration: 5″

TTBB Choir

Orchestral Arrangement

I. To the Moon
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, —
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?
Thou chosen sister of the Spirit,
That gazes on thee till in thee it pities …

– Percy Bysshe Shelly

II. Lucifer in Starlight
On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.

– George Meredith

This work is a choral setting of two poems about the heavens and celestial drama by Percy Bysshe Shelley and George Meredith. The first movement, a setting of Shelley’s “To the Moon,” seeks to evoke the ethereal beauty and distant solitude of the Moon. The second movement is a setting of Meredith’s “Lucifer in Starlight.” The poem tells the story of Lucifer who, in a fit of pride, attempts a futile second revolt against Heaven. He is repelled, however, by the immutable order of the Universe and cast back into Hell. I was drawn to both of these poems by both the beauty and intense drama of the texts.

Recorded by the Constellation Men’s Ensemble in January 2024 at West Chester University

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