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.

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