The Texas Boys Choir

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Full Concert

(Randall Thomson)

Cantata for Treble Voices and Chamber Orchestra

Texts by Robert Herrick (1591 - 1674) and Richard Wilbur, whose version of The Pelican is from a medieval Bestiary by Phillipe de Thaun.

George Bragg - Conductor
Founder - Director of The Texas Boys Choir
of Fort Worth, Texas




(To his Saviour, a child;
a present, by a child.)

Go pretty child, and bear this flower
Unto thy little Saviour;
And tell him, by that bud now blown,
He is the Rose of Sharon known:
When thou hast said so, stick it there
Upon his bib and stomacher:
And tell him (for good handsell too)
That thou hast brought a whistle new,
Made of a clean and oaten reed,
To charm his cries (at time of need):
Tell him, for coral, thou hast none,
But if thou hadst, he should have one;
But poor thou art, and known to be
Even as moniless as he.
Lastly, if thou canst win a kiss
From those mellifluous lips of his,
Then never take a second one
To spoil the first impression.





PELLICANUS is the word
For a certain breed of bird
Who truly is a crane;
Egypt is his domain.
There are two kinds thereof;
Near to the Nile they live;
One of them dwells in the flood,
The fishes are his food;
The other lives in the isles
On lizards, crocodiles,
Serpents, and stinking creatures,
And beasts of evil nature.
In Greek his title was Onocrotalos,
Which is congium rostrum, said
In the Latin tongue instead,
Or long-beak in our own.
Of this bird it is known
That when he comes to his young,
They being grown and strong,
And does them kindly things,
And covers them with his wings,
The little birds begin
Fiercely to peck at him;
They tear at him and try
To blind their father's eye.
He falls upon them then
And slays them with great pain,
Then goes away for a spell,
Leaving them where they fell.
On the third day he returns,
And thereupon he mourns,
Feeling so strong a woe
To see the small birds so
That he strikes his breast with his beak
Until the blood shall leak.
And when the coursing blood
Spatters his lifeless brood,
Such virtue does it have
That once again they live.

KNOW that this pelican
Signifies Mary's Son;
The little birds are men
Restored to life again
From death, by that dear blood
Shed for us by our God.
Now learn one meaning more,
Revealed by holy lore:
Know why the small birds try
To peck their father's eye,
Who turns on them in wrath
And puts them all to death.
Men who deny the light
Would blind God's blazing sight,
But on such people all
His punishment will fall.
This is the meaning I find;
Now bear it well in mind.





In this world (the Isle of Dreams)
While we sit by sorrow's streams,
Tears and terrors are our themes

But when once from hence we fly,
More and more approaching nigh
Unto young eternity

In that whiter island, where
Things are evermore sincere;
Candor here, and lustre there

There no monstrous fancies shall
Out of hell an horror call,
To create (or cause at all)

There in calm and cooling sleep
We our eyes shall never steep;
But eternal watch shall keep,

Pleasures, such as shall pursue
Me immortaliz'd, and you;
And fresh joys as never to
                                Have ending.


Alleluia. Amen.

Recorded at the Four Arts Club in Sherman, Texas, Sunday afternoon, March 30, 1968.


Copyright 2002
This page was last modified on 01 September 2004