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For two mixed choirs (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)

William Blake’s poem A Cradle Song incorporates into the soft and soothing language of a mother’s lullaby increasingly explicit allusions to the birth—and the death—of Christ. In setting the poem to music, Galbraith chose to emphasize those allusions by punctuating certain passages with lines from common Latin motets. For example, Blake’s lines “Sleep, sleep, happy sleep, / While o’er thee thy mother weep” are complemented by “Fac me tecum pie flere” (“Make me lovingly weep with you”) from the Stabat Mater. Throughout much of the piece, one of the choirs creates a “bed” of sound while the other choir becomes the focus. By the fifth verse, “Sleep, sleep, happy child, / All creation slept and smil’d,” the two choirs have begun to pass the “bed” back and forth, while the sound builds toward “Sweet babe, in thy face / Holy image I can trace.”

Performed by
Elmer Iseler Singers
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Lydia Adams Conductor

Commissioned by Soundstreams with generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.