The Gift To Sing

This work for SATB a cappella was composed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. It was composed specifically for The King’s Singers New Music Prize competition. The text is by James Weldon Johnson (1876-1938). Johnson was an American writer and civil rights activist. He was a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917.

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Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing.

Instrumentation:
SATB a cappella
Date completed:
Autumn, 2020
Duration:
4:00
Author:
James Weldon Johnson

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