Reasons to Sing

Program Notes and Translations (pdf)

Cantate Domino
Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)

Hassler was born in Nuremburg and received his first music instruction from his father, Issak. Hans went to Italy in 1584 to continue his studies arriving in Venice at the peak of the Venetian Polychoral era. He became friends with Giovanni Gabrieli and together they studied with Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni’s uncle. Hassler returned to Germany in 1585 after Andrea’s death. Hassler was one of the first composers to bring innovations of the Venetian style across the Alps. Though Hassler was Protestant, he wrote many masses and directed music for Catholic services in Augsburg while serving the nobleman Octavian Fugger.

The text is taken from Psalm 96: 1-3. This text is the Introit for the fourth Sunday after Easter. It can also be used for the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Cantate Domino canticum novum
  O sing to the Lord a new song;
cantate Domino omnis terra
  sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Cantate Domino, et benedicite
  Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
Annuntiate de die in diem salutare ejus
  tell of his salvation from day to day.
Annuntiate inter gentes gloriam ejus
  Declare his glory among the nations,
in omnibus populis mirabilia ejus.
  his marvelous works among all the peoples.


Craig Carnahan (b. 1951)

Soloists: Madeline Pascavage and Charles Higgs

Carnahan received his B.A. from Concordia College and did graduate studies in composition with Dominick Argento and Paul Fetler at the University of Minnesota. In the past thirty-five years, Carnahan has received over seventy-five commissions for original compositions. In 1998, he was Composer-in-Residence for the American Composers Forum’s Partners Residency Project.

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) was an American poet from St. Louis, Missouri. In 1918, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection Love Songs. Her poetry has become popular with composers in recent years.

From my spirit's gray defeat,
From my pulse's flagging beat,
From my hopes that turned to sand
Sifting through my close-clenched hand,
From my own fault's slavery,
If I can sing, I still am free.
For with my singing I can make
A refuge for my spirit's sake,
A house of shining words, to be
My fragile immortality.

Fa Una Canzona
Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605)

Vecchi was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance. He was born in Modena. He took holy orders sometime before 1577. Vecchi was renowned for his madrigals, especially his grouping of them in the "madrigal comedy" form. This light, popular entertainment is regarded as one of the precursors to opera.

Fa una canzona senza note nere,
Write a song with no black notes
Se mai bramasti la mia grazia havere:
If you ever wanted my favor
Falla d'un tuono ch'invita al dormire,
Write it so that it will bring me to sleep
Dolcemente facendola finire.
Make it end sweetly, sweetly.

Per entro non vi spargere durezze,
Don't put any harshness into it
Che le mie orecchie non vi sono avezze:
Because my ears are not used to that
Falla d'un tuono ch'invita al dormire,
Write it so that it will bring me to sleep
Dolcemente facendola finire.
Make it end sweetly, sweetly.


Ubi Caritas
Michael John Trotter (b. 1978)

Soloists: Erin Garrard and Marianna Fuller

Michael John Trotta is an American composer and conductor. While a student at Rowan University, Trotta studied voice and conducting. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. Trotta completed at Master's Degree in Composition and Conducting. He earned his Doctorate in Choral Conducting at Louisiana State University, where he studied with Kenneth Fulton. In 2015, Trotta relocated to New York City to work as a full-time freelance composer.

Ubi caritas is a hymn often used for the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of The Last Supper before Easter. The text is attributed to Paulinus of Aquileia, and dates from 796 CE. The traditional melody is believed to be from the eighth century as well. Trotta composed a new melody for this setting.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor
Christ's love has gathered us into one.
Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincere.
And may we love each.


Now is the Month of Maying
Thomas Morley (1557-1602)

Thomas Morley was an English composer, theorist, singer, and organist of the Renaissance. He was one of the most prominent composers of the English Madrigal School, referring to the strong Italian influence on English madrigals. Morley lived in London at the same time as Shakespeare, and was one of two composers of the only surviving contemporary settings of verse by Shakespeare.

Now is the Month of Maying was published in 1595, and is replete with bawdy double-entendre. On the surface, it is about spring dancing, but this is a metaphor for making love.

Now is the month of maying, When merry lads are playing, fa, la, la.
Each with his bonny lass upon the greeny grass, fa, la, la.
The spring clad all in gladness, Doth laugh at winter's sadness, fa, la, la.
And to the bagpipe's sound the nymphs tread out their ground, fa, la, la.
Fie then! why sit we musing youth's sweet delight refusing? fa, la, la.
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak, shall we play Barley-Break? fa, la, la.


Peace I Leave With You
Amy Beach (1867-1944)

Amy Beach was an American composer and pianist. She was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. Beach was born in New Hampshire. Amy showed signs of being a child prodigy. She began formal piano lessons with her mother at age six. The family moved to Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1875, where Amy continued her musical training. The text is taken from John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you.
Not as the world giveth give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled.


Hark, All Ye Lovely Saints
Thomas Weelkes (1574-1623)

Thomas Weelkes was an English composer and organist. He served as organist of Winchester College in 1598, later moving to Chichester Cathedral in 1602, a position he held until his death. His works are mostly vocal, and include madrigals, anthems, and services. Weelkes was interested in word painting, using melody to reflect the meaning of the words. His madrigals are chromatic and use varied counterpoint and unconventional rhythm in their construction.

Hark, all ye lovely saints above, Diana hath agreed with Love,
His fiery weapon to remove. fa, la, la.
Do you not see how they agree?
Then cease, fair ladies;
why weep ye? fa, la, la.
See, see, your mistress bids your cease,
and welcome Love, with Love’s increase;
Diana hath procured your peace. fa, la, la. Cupid hath sworn his bow forlorn to break and burn, ere ladies mourn. fa, la, la.


Esto Les Digo
Kinley Lange (b. 1950)

Soloist: Katie Sadler-Stephenson

Kinley Lange has been working as a choral musician for almost forty years. He is the founder and artistic director of Austin ProChorus, a chamber choir devoted to the music of living composers. After being discharged from the Navy, he studied music theory at the University of Hawaii where he earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees.

The text is a Spanish translation of Matthew 18:19-20. The piece has been performed across the US, South America, and Europe, including a performance at St. Peter’s Basilica. The harmonic structure is tonally based with colorful non-chord tones.

Esto les digo, si dos de ustedes se ponen,
se ponen en acuerdo quíen, en la tierra para pedir,
pedir algo en oración, mi padre que está en el cielo,
se lo dará. Porque donde dos o tres,
se reúnen en mi nombre, allí estoy yo,
en medio de ellos.

Translation: Where two or three are gathered in My name, there will I be also.


My Spirit Sang All Day
Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)

Finzi was born in London. His father was of Italian Jewish descent and his mother of German Jewish descent. Finzi become one of the most "English" composers of his generation. Despite being an agnostic of Jewish descent, several of his choral works incorporate Christian texts. The text of My Spirit Sang All Day is a poem by British poet laureate, Robert Bridges (1844-1930). Bridges was a doctor by training who achieved literary fame late in life. His poems reflect a deep Christian faith, and he is the author of many well-known hymns.

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 thy joy.

My eyes gan peer around, O my joy
What beauty hast though found?
Shew us they joy.
My jealous ears grew whist, O my joy
Music from heaven ist,
Sent for out joy?
She also came and heard; O my joy,
What, said she, is this word?
What is they joy?
And I replied, O see, O my joy,
'Tis thee, I cried, 'tis thee:
Thou art my joy.


Sing Me To Heaven
Daniel E. Gawthrop (b. 1949)

Born in Fort Wayne Indiana, Gawthrop is a composer primarily of choral music. He attended Michigan State University and Brigham Young University. His choral works have been performed by choral groups around the world. He has also composed a substantial body of works for organ. Gawthrop has received over 100 commissions to write original music.

The text of this piece was written by Jane Griner, wife of the composer. Griner writes, "The idea for this text was born out of a lifetime of being surrounded my musicians." Jane’s mother was a piano teacher. Her father sang in the community chorus. She played in orchestras from the age of thirteen.

In my heart's sequestered chambers lie truths stripped of poet's gloss.
Words alone are vain and vacant and my heart is mute.
In response to aching silence, memory summons half-heard voices,
and my soul finds primal eloquence and wraps me in song.
If you would comfort me, sing me a lullaby.
If you would win my heart, sing me a love song.
If you would mourn me and bring me to God,
sing me a requiem, sing me to heaven.
Touch in me all love and passion, pain, pleasure,
Touch in me grief and comfort; love and passion, pain and pleasure.


God's Gonna Set This World on Fire
Moses Hogan (b. 1957-2003)

Hogan was an American composer and arranger of choral music, best known for his settings of spirituals. Born in New Orleans, Hogan became an accomplished pianist by the age of nine. He received a full scholarship to Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied piano, and completed his Bachelor of Music degree in 1979. He immediately began graduate studies at the Juilliard School of Music, and later studied in Vienna. In 1997, he founded the Moses Hogan Singers. They released their first album in 2002. He died of a brain tumor one year later.

God's gonna set this world on fire one of these days, Hallelujah.
I'm gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days, Hallelujah.
I'm gonna eat and never get hungry one of these days, Hallelujah.
I'm gonna eat and never get thirsty one of these days, Hallelujah.