Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund



So beautie on the waters stood - (2011)    

Ben Jonson

for tenor and piano


So beautie on the waters stood,
When Love had ser'd earth from floud,
So when he parted ayre from fire,
Hee did with Concord all inspire,
And then a motion hee them taught,
That elder than himselfe was thought,
Which thought was yet the childe of earth.
For love is elder than his birth.

[ 2 pages, circa 2' 15" ]

Ben Jonson


In succinct and lovely verse, a view of the creation story in which Love and Concord stand as characters in the storytelling with the lesson that love comes before man. The malaise of the modern world with its raging atheists insulting religious peoples is that their being correct trumps Love, in the capitalized word which Jonson writes. In the original Hebrew, the beginning uses the same stem with which one might write of "head" and "thought," and Jonson imagery shows us that thought which stood to be seen as beauty was and remains Love.



The setting is a simple, two verse form, a short introduction and coda to frame the verses. At measure eight and beyond the left and right hands play gestures separated by the twelfth, though the scheme is not wholly exact throughout. In the softest dynamics, a sotto voce is marked to rise to the top of the range, gently and peaceably.



The score for So beautie on the waters stood 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 piano-vocal score.


So beautie on the waters stood