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Ralph Vaughan Williams -

Ralph Vaughan Williams - "Reconciliation" from 'Dona Nobis Pacem', for piano solo

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Ralph Vaughan WIlliams - "Reconciliation" newly transcribed and arranged for piano solo, from the his cantata Dona Nobis Pacem.  The arrangement is based upon the opening thirty-six bars of the movement. The rights to this arrangement were generously granted to Len by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Estate.

“…Among the poems by Walt Whitman (1819–1892) which RVW had set to music before the First World War was the Dirge for Two Veterans. This became the starting point for a new work in which he used two more poems both of which, Beat, beat drums, and Reconciliation, came from Whitman’s experiences during the American Civil War….all linked by a soprano voice whose repeated, imploring ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ gave the cantata its name...”

          ...from ‘A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ by Ursula Vaughan Williams, OUP 1964.

WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost;
 That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:
 ... For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
 I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near;
 I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

 

Walt Whitman (1819–1892), America’s most revered poet, spent much of the American Civil War as a volunteer in hospitals in Washington, D.C., nursing injured Union soldiers, helping them write letters to their wives and families, witnessing their agonies, and not infrequently watching them suffer and die. Like Lincoln, whom he loved, Whitman understood that once the war was over, national reconciliation would become the country’s foremost task. The "Word" Whitman refers to in the first line is, of course, "Reconciliation" -- the poem's title. He draws on natural imagery ("beautiful as the sky"), he plays at contradictions ("beautiful that war") to get at the healing power of Reconciliation. In the last three lines, he redefines "Reconciliation" in personal, human terms. Whitman places the poem in a specific time and place: a funeral. “Reconciliation” is now among the most loved of Whitman’s shorter poems.

Copyright notice:
Copyright © Oxford University Press 1971
This Arrangement © Oxford University Press 2017
Reproduced by Permission of CopyCat Music Licensing, LLC,
obo Oxford University Press.
All Rights Reserved