Two Love Songs
of St. John of the Cross

Scoring

SSAA a cappella 

 

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Details

7:30
2008

The Princeton Singers, 2008
Steven Sametz, director

The Princeton Singers, 2008
Steven Sametz, director

No. 1 Luz y amor (Light and Love), ECS, No. 7350, (SSAA unaccompanied)
No. 2 Mi Amado (My Beloved), ECS No. 7351, (SSAA unaccompanied)

Program Notes

Two Love Songs of St. John of the Cross

No. 1 Luz y amor (Light and Love)
No. 2  Mi Amado (My Beloved)

In the first poem, St. John tells us that the contemplative soul (the solitary bird) needs five qualities: 1) it must rise above above passing things (fly to the highest point); 2) naturally enjoysolitude;  3) keep its head high, responding to the spirit;  4) have no defined color, no attachments; and 5) it shall be filled with sweet song.  In these five ways, St. John is pointing towards the life of spiritual fulfillment.

The second poem of the set, Mi amado, is a response to Luz y amor. The solitary stillness of prayer, that “silent music,” leads to “the supper that refreshes and deepens love.” Much of the language of St. John is sensuous, but in Mi Amado St, John is pointing towards the spiritual love that nature reveals.

The Two Love Songs of St. John of the Cross may be performed separately or as a set. 

Text / translation

No. 1  Luz y amor (Light and love)

Las condiciones del pájaro solitario son cinco.
La primera, que se va a lo más alto;
la segunda, que no sufre compañía, aunque sea de su naturaleza;
la tercera, que pone el pico al aire;
la cuarta, que no tiene determinado color;
la quinta, que canta suavemente.

–San Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross)
born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez (1542-1591)
Dichos de Luz y Amor (Sayings of Light and Love)

No. 2  Mi Amado (My Beloved)

Mi Amado, las montañas,
los valles solitarios nemorosos,
las ínsulas extrañas,
los ríos sonorosos,
el silbo de los aires amorosos,
la noche sosegada
en par de los levantes de la aurora,
la música callada,
la soledad sonora,
la cena que recrea y enamora.

Translation

No. 1 Luz y amor (Light and love)

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
first, that it seeks the highest place;
second, that it does not want company, not even of its own kind;
third, that it aims its beak to the wind;
fourth, that it has no definite color;
fifth, that it sings very sweetly.

No. 2 Mi Amado (My Beloved)
My Beloved, the mountains,
and lonely wooded valleys,
strange islands,
and resounding rivers,
the whistling of love-stirring breezes,
the tranquil night
at the time of the rising dawn,
silent music,
sounding solitude,
the supper that refreshes, and deepens love.