Cradle Song


for SATB choir
Premiere: Chicago Master Singers; Alan Heatherington, Music Director (2014)
Duration: 4 minutes

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In setting the text of Cradle Song I was struck by Blake’s personification of the infant as both the ultimate symbol of human innocence and at the same time possessing the seeds of desire and cunning that we usually do not associate with infants. In the infant’s dreaming state, all of life’s joys and sorrows show in the expressions made. But Blake makes it apparent that it is desire (“soft desires I can trace, secret joys secret smiles, little pretty infant wiles”)that drives these joys and sorrows, which brings about a sense of concern and even sorrow for what this fragile life will have to face as it grows. There is such bitter sweetness in this text that suggested a somewhat haunting approach where the sounds of innocence and desire, sorrow and joy could be heard within the same breath. At the words “when thy little heart doth wake, then the dreadful night shall break” there is a sense of hope, if not a somewhat forced hope, that the innocence will never be lost. At this point, the music stops abruptly and reverts back to the hush of the opening word “sleep” as if to try and reclaim this innocence. Cradle Song was written for Alan Heatherington and the Chicago Master Singers.

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Score Dimensions

Page Size: 8.5"x11"