4:00 | SAT (Opt. SSA) and Piano | Score

Program Note

Nurse’s Song (Songs of Innocence), commissioned by Jennifer Gaderlund and dedicated to The Graham Middle School Vocal Ensemble, sets the poignant poem by William Blake from his set of poems “Songs of Innocence and Experience”. While there are actually two “Nurse’s Song” poems, this piece sets the “Nurse’s Song” poem contained in the first set of poems associated with innocence, which deal with youth and childhood. The latter half of “Songs of Innocence and Experience” deals with the loss of childhood innocence that accompanies growing up and gaining experience.

The text alternates between the nurse, who wants the children she is caring for to return from play, and the children, who of course want to play as long as possible. The setting of this poem has an overall palindromic form of ABCBA (the first stanza is repeated at the end). The B section, representing the nurse, is slower and more triadic. The C section, representing the children, is playfully defiant and features a lot of fun dialogue between the soprano, alto, and tenor lines.

This piece is a great fit for any intermediate to advanced middle school choir. The tenor part range is limited, so it is also possible to use this piece for SSA ensembles.

Text

When voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still.

 

‘Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies.’

 

‘No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides in the sky, the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep.’

 

‘Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed.’
The little ones leapèd, and shoutèd, and laugh’d
And all the hills echoèd.

 

When voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still.