Monday, October 12, 2009

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, born today in 1872, is probably known by more people for his hymn tunes than for the many other forms of music he wrote. Unlike some of the youthful prodigies we have seen, most of his music was written after the age of thirty, though he had earlier studied with composers such as C.H.H. Parry and Maurice Ravel.

In addition to hymn tunes, his music for voice spanned from art songs and simple church anthems to longer choral works and eventually to four operas. This selection was not originally written as a hymn; it comes from his Five Mystical Songs (1911), which were set to texts of George Herbert, the seventeenth century British priest and poet.
The tune of the first stanza of the song is used for all three in this adaptation.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.

George Herbert, 1633
Tune: THE CALL (
Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1911

As predicted last year, we have seen a number of other Vaughan Williams hymn tunes and there are definitely more to come.

One Year Ago: Ralph Vaughan Williams

One Year Ago: Cecil Frances Alexander

One Year Ago: Healey Willan

P.S. - this is post #300! Never really though about getting so far in a bit less than two years.

1 comment:

AuntE said...

This is, I believe, the only one of the 5 Mystical songs I have ever played, although I attempted to learn the last one, "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing" after hearing the choir of Westminster Abbey (?) sing it on a recording of Princess Anne's first wedding to Capt. Mark Phillips. I have a score; I'll have to check!

I'm also going to check your post on Healey Willan from a year ago - A great Canadian composer, teacher and church musician.