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Shelter This Candle (Full Score)

By Elizabeth Alexander

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Mixed Chorus and Chamber Ensemble (SATB choir, oboe, horn, cello and harp) - Advanced
Composed by Elizabeth Alexander. Collegiate Repertoire, Community Chorus, Concert Music. Community, Darkness & Light, Secular, Choral. Full score. With Text language: English. Duration 12 minutes. Published by Seafarer Press (SF.SEA-080-00).

Item Number: SF.SEA-080-00

Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, "To The Wife Of a Sick Friend".

This atmospheric and evocative work creates a world of dazzling light, utter darkness, desolate solitude and joyful delight. Sounds of wind and falling tears are woven throughout, with haunting whispers and vocal effects. The piece opens and closes with tender repetitions of the phrase "shelter this candle," Edna St. Vincent Millay's reminder to protect the glimmers of hope during darker times.

Commissioned by VOICES Chorale; Lyn Ransom, music director (Pennington, NJ) Commissioned in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of VOICES Chorale
Composer's Note: Millay's dark but candlelit cavern is nothing less than our own beautiful but imperfect world, where our losses and hardships may leave us overwhelmed by grief or despair. During times like these, leaving the cave is not an option. But sheltering our communal candle is.
The chamber ensemble plays a major role in this piece, with a significant introduction and dramatic interludes.

Text: Shelter this candle from the wind. Hold it steady. In its light The cave wherein we wander lost Glitters with frosty stalactite, Blossoms with mineral rose and lotus, Sparkles with crystal moon and star, Till a man would rather be lost than found: We have forgotten where we are. Shelter this candle. Shrewdly blowing Down the cave from a secret door Enters our only foe, the wind. Hold it steady. Lest we stand, Each in a sudden, separate dark, The hot wax spattered upon your hand, The smoking wick in my nostrils strong, The inner eyelid red and green For a moment yet with moons and roses,- Then the unmitigated dark. Alone, alone in a terrible place, In utter dark without a face, With only the dripping of the water on the stone, And the sound of your tears, and the taste of my own. From The Buck in The Woods, Copyright 1928, 1955. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Elizabeth Barnett, literary executor for the Millay Society.

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