Traherne Songs (2018)
Soprano and Piano
In my undergraduate years I had a love-hate relationship with Thomas Traherne, a 17th Century English poet, priest, and mystic. He said some of the most beautiful things about the human condition in relation to God – for instance, "The world is yours" – ideas which seemed to me too impossibly beautiful to be true. I was a Traherne skeptic for a while and have only recently begun opening up to the possibility that he was right. I have long wanted to set Traherne and reveled in the mysticism of these poems.
The cycle is inspired by Gerald Finzi's sublime setting of Traherne in his Dies Natalis. It draws also on Gregorian chant as well as the lieder of Mahler and Schumann.