Prime Voce of the Seattle Girls Choir
Jacob Winkler, conductor
Full Many A Glorious Morning
SSAA Choir (divisi)
$2.00 per score
About the Work
Full Many A Glorious Morning was commissioned by Karen Thomas and Seattle Pro Musica, with a world premiere on March 11, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Lynwood, Washington. It was nominated as a semi-finalist for the American Prize in 2019, and has been accepted into Project : Encore's catalog of vetted choral compositions.
When Karen Thomas, Artistic Director of Seattle Pro Musica, asked me to compose a piece for their women’s choir, she asked that the piece be set to a Shakespeare text. I chose to set Shakespeare’s Sonnet 33, Full Many A Glorious Morning, because of its beautiful descriptions of nature, love, and loss. Besides it’s wonderful text painting of the sun, mountains and clouds, one interpretation can be seen - the sun represents that of a loved one, and the cloud represents the loss of this loved one. I personally related to experiencing that loss through sudden death, so I set the text with this interpretation.
As one experiences the joy of another, Shakespeare depicts this through the sun shining “with all triumphant splendor on my brow.” Then, he says, “But out, alack, he was but one hour mine; The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now,” he shows how quickly this person can be snatched away from us, in death’s unrelenting grip.
By musically expressing the colors I associate with the text, I chose the key of E Major, which is a bright orange, to represent the glorious color of the sun, with upward scalar motives in their ascent to climactic moments of its “triumphant splendor.” I used minor modes and descending scalar motives to depict duller colors of the “basest clouds.” I then repeated the first lines of the Sonnet to end on a hopeful note, coloring it with a shimmery B Lydian inflection on “heaven’s sun,” depicting hints of blue, purple, white and gold.
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace.
Even so my sun one early morn did shine
With all-triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack! he was but one hour mine;
The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth.
Sonnet by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)