Expectans Expectavi -
Charles Hamilton Sorley
for medium voice and piano
From morn to
midnight, all day through,
I laugh and play as others do,
I sin and chatter, just the same
As others with a different name.
And all year long upon the stage
I dance and tumble and do rage
So vehemently, I scarcely see
The inner and eternal me.
I have a temple I do not
Visit, a heart I have forgot,
A self that I have never met,
A secret shrine—and yet, and yet
This sanctuary of my soul
Unwitting I keep white and whole,
Unlatched and lit, if Thou should'st care
To enter or to tarry there.
With parted lips and outstretched hands
And listening ears Thy servant stands,
Call Thou early, call Thou late,
To Thy great service dedicate.
3 pages, circa 3'
Sorley (1895-1915) was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and served in the British
Army, killed in action at the Battle of Loos. His poetry was published
posthumously as Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press,
1916). He is noted as one among several highly talented poets cut down so
early in life. The title mirrors Psalm 39, which begins "Exspectans
exspectavi Dominum, et intendit mihi."
That psalm text
prefigures such a tragedy as this young poet's death in war, as one reads
later in the text, "...my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing
before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity." The
Latin text has been set many times, from Orlando de Lassus and Palestrina to
text used in the second movement of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms,
the opening fugue subject to which I extended into a work for organ in 2010,
Fantasia and Fugue on a Theme of Stravinsky
"I waited patiently
for the Lord" is a sentiment of great meaning to many.
setting treats four of the five strophes in like manner, related to the
initial gestures in motet-like fashion.
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major
commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior
arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this art song score.