In praise of songs that die (David Monks)

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  • (Posted 2009-10-01)   CPDL #20109:      Network.png
Editor: David Monks (submitted 2009-09-06).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 47 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Includes a keyboard reduction of the a cappella choral score. Embedded Sibelius file may be viewed and printed with Scorch.

General Information

Title: In praise of songs that die
Composer: David Monks
Lyricist: Vachel Lindsaycreate page (1879-1931)

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularArt song

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

Published: 2007

Description: Essentially a Threnody. 'Wonderful songs, but born to die…' However, it's not entirely clear if the lyricist is referring to poetry or music - perhaps both, as Lindsay is considered the father of modern singing poetry, as he referred to it, in which verse was as much to be chanted as spoken. In fact Lindsay’s verse is particularly apt for this treatment, and his audiences, on occasion, would chant along with him.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Ah, they are passing, passing by,
Wonderful songs, but born to die!
Cries from the infinite human seas,
Waves thrice-winged with harmonies.
Here I stand on a pier in the foam
Seeing the songs to the beach go home,
Dying in sand while the tide flows back,
As it flowed of old in its fated track.
Oh, hurrying tide that will not hear
Your own foam children dying near
Is there no refuge-house of song,
No home, no haven where songs belong?
Oh, precious hymns that come and go!
You perish, and I love you so!