Songs of Innocence (complete cycle)


Songs of Innocence is a 10-minute cycle in three movements for a cappella SATB choir, set to poems from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence.  Purposely composed with simple, folk-like modal melodies, each movement nonetheless features intricate textures and compelling harmonic motion.  Blake’s deeply expressive poetry is powerfully conveyed in these evocative settings.

I.   Piping Down the Valleys Wild
II.  Little Lamb
III. On Another’s Sorrow

Also available as individual octavos.

A licensed copy is required for each member performing.



“Piping Down the Valleys Wild” is the bright, introductory movement of Songs of Innocence.  The character of the lamb (sung by soprano solo) is in dialogue with the poet, whose words are sung by the rest of the choir.  The lower voices create a 3-part ostinato above which the sopranos and the soloist deliver the simple, tuneful melody.  A rolling harmonic progression provides interest on the second stanza, eventually coming to rest in a quiet, mysterious “lull” that precedes the bright recapitulation and joyous conclusion of the movement.

“Little Lamb” is the gentle and tender second movement of Songs of Innocence.  The entire first stanza is sung by women alone, on a melody comprised of lovely arches.  They open with a question: “Little lamb, who made thee?” The men initiate the second stanza, in answer: “Little lamb, I’ll tell thee.”  In reverent manner they continue: “He is called by thy name, for he calls himself a lamb.”  Then the women return, in a beautiful descant, joining the men, finishing out the stanza with rich harmonies and yearning suspensions.

“On Another’s Sorrow” is the climactic, intense concluding movement of Songs of Innocence.  In a great meditation on human suffering and sympathy, Blake asks the eternal question: “Can I see another’s woe and not be in sorrow too?”  The men begin in three parts, on a relentless, rhythmic, rising figure.  Each verse ends with the poet’s answer to the question first posed: “Never, never can it be!”  The women take up the second stanza as did the men, in three parts, with the same, driving material.  An interlude combines all six parts before the poet’s great proclamation:” Oh! He gives to us his joy that our grief he may destroy.”  The piece concludes with one of the great half-rhymes in poetry, with rending vocal lines: “Till our grief is fled and gone, He doth sit by us and moan.”

Additional information


SATB a cappella

Reviews (0)


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Songs of Innocence (complete cycle)”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart