Birdsong

Recently, I was very happy to come across this excellent performance of my composition, “Birdsong” by the TN 2013 All-State Women’s Choir.
Originally written for treble voices (children’s choir) and piano, this composition was a 1993 commission by Bill and Eva Bettger, directors of the Colborne Street United Church in London, Ontario CANADA. It is published by Boosey and Hawkes. The text comes from a collection of poems written by children who, while incarcerated in the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia during WW II, wrote of their experiences and dreams. This young author writes of the beauty of the world rather than of the horrors and destruction of his or her present circumstances. The text’s positive and uplifting message is all the more striking when placed against the backdrop of war and the loss of personal freedom.

I made some changes to the original poem for musical purposes. Repeated some lines, and added or changed a word. Can’t remember what the specific changes were. Long time ago! The hyphens are there, as this is a copy of the poem in the form I needed to use to fit the music. They weren’t in the original.

He does-n’t know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and does-n’t go out.
He does-n’t know what birds know best
Nor what I sing a-bout, Nor what I sing a-bout, Nor what sing a-bout:
That the world is full of love-li-ness.

When dew-drops spar-kle in the grass
And earth is a-flood with mor-ning light. light
A black-bird sings up-on a bush
To greet the dawn-ing af-ter night,
the dawn-ing af-ter night,
the dawn-ing af-ter night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Hey, try to o-pen your heart to beau-ty;
Go to the woods some-day
And weave a wreath of me-mory there.
Then if tears ob-scure your way
You’ll know how won-der-ful it is
To be a-live.