Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vaughan Williams, "Song of Thanksgiving"


Capitol Fax, a blog covering Illinois government and politics owned and operated by Rich Miller,

also have a personal tradition of listening to Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “A Song of Thanksgiving.” I still get chills when the children start their part of song, imagining what it was like for the war-weary people to hear them in the aftermath of WW2:

Teach us the strength that cannot seek, By deed, or thought, to hurt the weak; That, under thee, we may possess Man’s strength to comfort man’s distress. Teach us delight in simple things, The mirth that has no bitter springs; Forgiveness free of evil done, And love to all men ‘neath the sun.

Robert Zimmerman, free-lance writer and blogger of the Washington, D.C., area, who recommends, "Go here for the full lyrics. It is absolutely worthwhile to print them out and read them as you watch this video. The images and words work together with amazing force, and illustrate well the importance of giving thanks on this day.

The BBC asked RVW to write a "thanksgiving anthem" to mark the end of World War 2 and this is the result. Originally called "Thanksgiving for Victory", it was later re-named and has been recorded several times. A lesser composer might have regarded such a commission as a mere 'job-of-work' - an occasional piece that would be performed once or twice and then forgotten; but Vaughan Williams, of course, gave it his all and came up with a work of poignant sincerity and emotional power; patriotic but never jingoistic or triumphalist. He selected the text himself from the bible, Shakespeare and Rudyard Kipling.

This performance is to be found on a DUTTON disc. Sir Adrian Boult conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Luton Choral Society and members of Luton Girls' Choir. The soprano soloist is Betty Dolemore and the speaker was Robert Speight. It was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios on 18th December 1951.

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