Nativity After John Donne
Notes on the Program
Nativity After John Donne is based on the poem (1610) by the poet John Donne.
The music is a literal setting of the text, with every note of the melody corresponding to a word of the poem. You could sing along. It is from his collection La Corona which tells the Christ story as a collection of sonnets. It is a simple retelling of the Christmas tale but also filled with paradox (cloistered immensity, well-belov’d imprisonment) and riddles (He Which fills all place, yet none holds Him). It is also a deeply human tale of motherly love and suffering.
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
-notes by the composer