Home > Choir + keyboard > Op.67f - Balaam Song Cycle: 6 Cradle Song [TTB]

The genesis for this cycle came from Michael Balaam, formerly Chairman of the Suffolk Singers, a group with whom I have had the privilege of working for some years. He approached me in 2011 to write a song cycle for choir; he suggested the texts, and within a couple of weeks we had the working drafts. There are seven movements in total; the idea was to have it performed at Christmas 2011, so the texts have a dual Christmas purpose, but can be performed at any time.

I have used several devices to link the movements, particularly the notes of C, F, E, G and A; their combination as a pentatonic scale but also in repeated chords has provided a useful ’cloud’ of sound around which to base the works. Equally, I have not stuck rigidly to this harmonic idea at the expense of the compositional process.

The text is by William Blake:

Sleep! sleep! beauty bright, Dreaming o’er the joys of night; Sleep! sleep! in thy sleep Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet Babe, in thy face Soft desires I can trace, Secret joys and secret smiles, Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel, Smiles as of the morning steal O’er thy cheek, and o’er thy breast Where thy little heart does rest.

O! the cunning wiles that creep In thy little heart asleep. When thy little heart does wake Then the dreadful lightnings break,

From thy cheek and from thy eye, O’er the youthful harvests nigh. Infant wiles and infant smiles Heaven and Earth of peace beguiles.

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