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The Turning Year (Geoff Allan)

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Music files

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  • CPDL #23239:  Icon_pdf.gif Icon_mp3_globe.gif
Editor: Geoff Allan (submitted 2011-03-08).   Score information: A4, 138 pages, 4.18 MB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Noteworthy composer files available. Copyright (c) J G Allan 2011. This edition can be fully distributed, duplicated, performed and recorded.

General Information

Title: The Turning Year
Composer: Geoff Allan

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Soloists Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in B flat doubling Bass Clarinet
Published: 2011

Description: The Turning Year is a choral song cycle set to poems by Hilaire Belloc. The work is in 15 short movements lasting about 1 hour in total. Each month of the year has a movement with a wordless setting for humming choir and solo oboe for midsummer and the whole work is framed by settings of a Belloc poem "Most Holy Night". The work is set for SATB choir, SATB soloists accompanied by Flute, Oboe and Clarinet in Bflat doubling Bass Clarinet. The work was performed in part by Myllburne Camerata in 2008 conducted by the composer.

Music Files

External websites: http://www.camerata.org.uk

Original text and translations

English.png English text

The Turning Year
Words : Hilaire Belloc

The Night

Most Holy Night, that still dost keep
The keys of all the doors of sleep,
To me when my tired eyelids close
Give thou repose.

And let the far lament of them
That chaunt the dead day’s requiem
Make in my ears, who wakeful lie,
Soft lullaby.

Let them that guard the hornàed Moon
By my bedside their memories croon.
So shall I have new dreams and blest
In my brief rest.

Fold thy great wings about my face,
Hide day-dawn from my resting-place,
And cheat me with thy false delight,
Most Holy Night.

It freezes- all across a soundless sky
The birds go home.  The governing dark's begun:
The steadfast dark that waits not for a sun;
The ultimate dark wherein the race shall die.
Death, with his evil finger to his lip,
Leers in at human windows, turning spy
To learn the country where his rule shall lie
When he assumes perpetual generalship.
The undefeated enemy, the chill
That shall benumb the voiceful earth at last,
Is master of our moment, and has bound
The viewless wind it-self.  There is no sound.
It freezes.  Every friendly stream is fast.
It freezes; and the graven twigs are still

The winter moon has such a quiet car
That all the winter nights are dumb with rest.
She drives the gradual dark with drooping crest,
And dreams go wandering from her drowsy star.
Because the nights are silent, do not wake:
But there shall tremble through the general earth,
And over you, a quickening and a birth.
The sun is near the hill-tops for your sake.
The latest born of all the days shall creep
To kiss the tender eyelids of the year;
And you shall wake, grown young with perfect sleep,
And smile at the new world, and make it dear
With living murmurs more than dreams are deep.
Silence is dead, my Dawn; the morning's here

The north-cast wind has come from Norroway,
Roaring he came above the white waves' tips!
The foam of the loud sea was on his lips,
And all his hair was salt with falling spray.
Over the keen light of northern day
He cast his snow cloud's terrible eclipse;
Beyond our banks he suddenly struck the ships,
And left them labouring on his landward way.
The certain course that to my strength belongs
Drives him with gathering purpose and control
Until across Vendean flats he sees
Ocean, the eldest of his enemies.
Then wheels he for him, glorying in goal
And gives him challenge, bellowing battle songs.

The stranger warmth of the young sun obeying,
Look! little beads of green begin to grow,
And hidden flowers have dated their tops to show
Where late such droughty dusts were rudely playing.
It's not the month, but all the world's a-maying!
Come then with me, I'll take you, for I know
Where the first hedgethorns and white windflowers blow:
We two alone,, that goes without the saying.
The month has treacherous clouds and moves in fears.
This April shames the month itself with smiles:
In whose new eyes I know no heaven of tears,
But still serene desire and between whiles,
So great a look that even April's grace
Makes only marvel at her only face

This is the laughing-eyed amongst them all:
My lady's month.  A season of young things.
She rules the light with harmony, and brings
The year's first green upon the beeches tall.
How often, where long creepers wind and fall
Through the deep woods in noonday wanderings,
I’ve heard the month, when she to echo sings,
I've heard the month make merry madrigal.
How often, bosomed in the breathing strong
Of mosses and young flowerets, have I lain
And watched the clouds, and caught the sheltered song -
Which it were more than life to hear again -
Of those small birds that pipe it all day long
Not far from Marly by the memoried Seine.

Humming chorus representing the bees in the heather in the high hills supporting solo oboe playing music suggested by the song of the skylark.

Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The Summer dark is but the dawn of day.
The last of sunset fades into the morning,
The morning calls you from the dark away.
The holy mist, the white mist of the morning,
Was wreathing upward on my lonely way.
The way was waiting for your own adorning
That should complete the broad adorned day.
Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The little eastern clouds are dapple grey:
There will be wind among the leaves to-day;
It is the very promise of the morning.
Lux Tua Via Mea: your light's my way -
Then do rise up and make it perfect day.

The Kings come riding back from the Crusade,
The purple Kings and all their mounted men;
They fill the street with clamorous cavalcade;
The Kings have broken down the Saracen.
Singing a great song of the eastern wars,
In crimson ships across the sea they came,
With crimson sails and diamonded dark oars,
That made the Mediterranean flash with flame.
And reading how, in that far month, the ranks
Formed on the edge of the desert, armoured all,
I wish to God that I had been with them
When the first Norman leapt upon the wall,
And Godfrey led the foremost of the Franks,
And young Lord Raymond stormed Jerusalem.

The soldier month, the bulwark of the year,
That never more shall hear such victories told;
He stands apparent with his heaven-high spear,
And helmeted of grand Etruscan gold.
Our harvest is the bounty he has won,
The loot his fiery temper takes by strength.
Oh! Paladin of the Imperial sun!
Oh! crown of all the seasons come at length!
This is sheer manhood; this is Charlemagne,
When he with his wide host came conquering home
From vengeance under Roncesvalles ta'en.
Or when his bramble beard flaked red with foam
Of bivouac wine-cups on the Lombard  plain,
What time he swept to grasp the world at Rome

I, from a window where the Meuse is wide,
Looked eastward out to the September night;
The men that in the hopeless battle died
Rose, and deployed, and stationed for the fight;
A brumal army, vague and ordered large
For mile on mile by some pale general,-
I saw them lean by companies to the charge,
But no man living heard the bugle-call.
And fading still, and pointing to their scars,
They fled in lessening clouds, where gray and high
Dawn lay along the heaven in misty bars;
But watching from that eastern casement, I
Saw the Republic splendid in the sky,
And round her terrible head the morning stars.

Look, how those steep woods on the mountain's face
Burn, burn against the sunset; now the cold
Invades our very noon: the year's grown old,
Mornings are dark, and evenings come apace.
The vines below have lost their purple grace,
And in Forreze the white wrack backward rolled,
Hangs to the hills tempestuous, fold on fold,
And moaning gusts make desolate all the place.

Mine host the month, at thy good hostelry,
Tired limbs I'll stretch and steaming beast I'll tether;
Pile on great logs with Gascon hand and free,
And pour the Gascon stuff that laughs at weather;
Swell your tough lungs, north wind, no whit care we,
Singing old songs and drinking wine together

November is that historied Emperor,
Conquered in age, but foot to foot with fate,
Who from his refuge high has heard the roar
Of squadrons in pursuit, and now, too late,
Stirrups the storm and calls the winds to war,
And arms the garrison of his last heirloom,
And shakes the sky to its extremest shore
With battle against irrevocable doom.
Till, driven and hurled from his strong citadels,
He flies in hurrying cloud and spurs him on,
Empty of lingerings, empty of farewells
And final benedictions, and is gone.
But in my garden all the trees have shed
Their legacies of the light, and all the flowers are dead.

Hoar Time about the house betakes him slow,
Seeking an entry for his weariness.
And in that dreadful company distress
And the sad night with silent footsteps go.
On my poor fire the brands are scarce aglow,
And in the woods without what memories press
Where, waning in the trees from less to less,
Mysterious bangs the hornàed moon and low.
For now December, full of aged care,
Comes in upon the yea and weakly grieves;
Mumbling his lost desires and his despair; .
And with mad trembling hand still interweaves,
The dank sear flower-stalks tangled in his hair,
While round about him whirl the rotten leaves

The Night
Most Holy Night, that still dost keep
The keys of all the doors of sleep,
To me when my tired eyelids close
Give thou repose.

And let the far lament of them
That chaunt the dead day’s requiem
Make in my ears, who wakeful lie,
Soft lullaby.

Let them that guard the hornàed Moon
By my bedside their memories croon.
So shall I have new dreams and blest
In my brief rest.

Fold thy great wings about my face,
Hide day-dawn from my resting-place,
And cheat me with thy false delight,
Most Holy Night.