A Triptych of Gratitude to the Divine

A Triptych of Gratitude to the Divine (Three Songs for Soprano and Piano) was composed in 1976 (with a new edition in 2006) in Binghamton, New York and was written especially for soprano, Louise Wohflaka. The three-movement song cycle was premiered by Mrs. Wohlfaka on 13 November 1977 in Binghamton at a concert celebrating her joining the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. In three movements, the cycle’s final song is about equal to the length of the first two songs. All three songs are pastoral in nature and are based on poems by early English poets. Further, each song takes its name from the name of its respective poem. 1. The Lamb sets a poem by William Blake (1757-1827) and comes from his collection, Songs of Innocence (1789). 2. A Pastoral Hymn is based on a poem by John Hall (1627-1656), as found in his collection, Divine Poems (1646). 3. Hymn, is based on a poem by Patrick Carey (1624-1656) and comes from his collection of poems entitled, Trivial Poems and Triolets (1651).

Dan Locklair

1. The Lamb

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

William Blake (1757-1827)
from Songs of Innocence (1789)

2. A Pastoral Hymn

Happy choristers of air,
Who by your nimble flight draw near
His throne, whose wondrous story,
And unconfined glory
Your notes still carol, whom your sound
And whom your plumy pipes rebound.

Yet do the lazy snails no less
The greatness of our Lord confess,
And those whom weight hath chained,
And to the earth restrained,
Their ruder voices do as well,
Yea, and the speechless fishes tell.

Great Lord, from whom each tree receives,
Then pays again, as rent, his leaves;
Thou dost in purple set
The rose and violet,
And giv’st the sickly lily white;
Yet in them all thy name dost write.

John Hall (1627-1656)
(from Divine Poems, 1646)

3. Hymn

Whilst I beheld the neck o’ the dove,
I spied and read these words:
“This pretty dye
Which takes your eye,
Is not at all the bird’s.
The dusky raven might
Have with these colours pleased your sight,
Had God but chose so to ordain above;”
This label wore the dove.

Whilst I admired the nightingale,
These notes she warbled o’er:
“No melody
Indeed have I,
Admire me then no more:
God has it in his choice
To give the owl, or me, this voice;
‘Tis he, ‘tis he that makes me tell my tale”;
This sang the nightingale.

I smelt and praised the fragrant rose,
Blushing, thus answered she:
“The praise you gave,
The scent I have,
Do not belong to me;
This harmless odour, none
But only God indeed does own;
To be his keepers, my poor leaves he chose;”
And thus replied the rose.

I took the honey from the bee,
On the bag these words were seen:
“More sweet than this
Perchance nought is,
Yet gall it might have been:
If God it should so please,
He could still make it such with ease;
And as well gall to honey change can he;”
This learnt I of the bee.

I touched and liked the down o’ the swan;
But felt these words there writ:
“Bristles, thorns, here
I soon should bear,
Did God ordain but it;
If my down to thy touch
Seem soft and smooth, God made it such;
Give more, or take all this away, he can;”
This was I taught by the swan.

All creatures, then, confess to God
That th’ owe Him all, but I.
My senses find
True, what my mind
Would still, oft does, deny.
Hence, pride! out of my soul!
O’er it thou shalt no more control;
I’ll learn this lesson, and escape the rod;
I, too, have all from God.

Patrick Carey (1624-1656)
(from Trivial Poems and Triolets, 1651)