My Spirit Sang All Day —2004

My Spirit Sang All Day, with a text by poet Robert Bridges, was commissioned by the Council Rock School District, Middle Level District Chorus, Corey Axler, conductor.

Program Notes

The text for this composition, by poet Robert Bridges, was selected by Corey Axler, music director of the Council Rock South choral program. As there is already a well-known setting of this poem by British composer Gerald Finzi, Mr. Axler was eager to hear how a modern composer would approach these words. We both felt that the joyous energy of the poetry was well-suited to a middle-school choral ensemble; thus the setting requires of the performers great energy and rhythmic clarity in the loud sections, as well as beautiful line and tone in the quieter passages. In particular, I loved the challenge of finding various colorful ways of re-harmonizing the second and fourth lines of each stanza. In a way, I was hoping that these changing, sometimes wild harmonies would sound like they were bursting at the seams with a joy and energy that cannot be easily defined or contained. I was also conscious of the repetitive nature of the form: six stanzas all alike; so it became clear to me that there needed to be contrast in the musical settings of these stanzas that would again show us the nuances and the breadth of feeling expressed in the words. This is why the second, fourth and sixth stanzas contrast with the main idea of the piece, offering a more lyrical, introspective expression of joy.


My spirit sang all day
O my joy.
Nothing my tongue could say,
Only my joy!

My heart an echo caught –
O my joy
And spake, Tell me thy thought,
Hide not my joy.

My eyes gan peer around,-
O my joy-
What beauty hast thou found?
Shew us thy joy.

My jealous ears grew whist;-
O my joy-
Music from heaven is’t,
Sent for our joy?

She also came and heard;
O my joy,
What, said she, is this word?
What is thy joy?

And I replied, O see,
O my joy,
‘Tis thee, I cried, ’tis thee:
Thou art my joy.

Robert Bridges