Three Fiona MacLeod Settings (Oliver Barton)

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  • (Posted 2004-02-10)  CPDL #06679:  Network.png PDF, MIDI and Finale 2004 files
Score information: A4, 20 pages, 434 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: All three songs in same PDF file.

Individual songs

  1. The Wind  (Posted 2004-02-10)  CPDL #06680:  – For SSTTBB.
  2. Honeymouth  (Posted 2004-02-10)  CPDL #06681:  – For SSTTBB.
  3. The Moonchild  (Posted 2004-02-10)  CPDL #06682:  – For solo Soprano.
Editor: Oliver Barton (submitted 2004-02-10).  

General Information

Title: Three Fiona MacLeod Settings
Composer: Oliver Barton
Lyricist: Fiona MacLeod

Number of voices: 1,6vv   Voicings: SSTTBB or S
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published:
Description: Fiona MacLeod was a creation or perhaps alter ego of the Scottish poet William Sharp (1855–1905). Some consider her his inner feminine consciousness; he himself described her as “an ancestral seeress” who came through to him. In any case, he went to tremendous lengths to conceal the connection between her and himself and there was quite a scandal when the truth came out that he was author of both his and her works. But the strange thing is that Fiona’s writings, steeped as they are in a twilight Celtic world, are so much more atmospheric and vivid, and in truth, better, than William’s. It is as though he really was possessed by a more inspired soul. The three settings are:

  1. The Wind — about 2'4". All parts split except the tenors
  2. Honeymouth — about 4'42". Full SSAATTBB throughout
  3. The Moonchild — about 2'1". This is scored for a female solo (a Mezzo will probably have the right sort of tone colour) and STB divisi choir, with odd solo bits for soprano and tenor. This is a bit tough on the altos. One of them could do the solo part; the rest could be temporary sopranos or tenors perhaps.

The settings are intended to be performed as a set, but Honeymouth and The Moonchild can be performed separately. The Wind wouldn’t really stand alone. The complete set was first performed in 1973, I think it was, by the Westron Wynd in the Orangery, Goldney House, Bristol, England, conducted by Nigel Davidson. The Moonchild has been performed in various guises, such as a solo song with piano and a recorder consort plus psaltery. Please feel free to arrange it for whatever assortments you like, but try to retain the atmospheric quality.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

The Wind
I hear a wind,
By day and by night.
What is… …the wind… …calling,
By day and by night,
The crying of wind?
When the day darkens,
When dusk grows light,
When the dew is falling?
When the dew is falling.
When the day darkens,
When dusk grows light,
When the dew is falling,
When silence dreams…
I hear a wind
Calling, calling
By day and by night.
Calling, calling,
What is the wind
That I hear calling, crying, calling, darkens, calling, crying.
Dew, dew, falling, falling, falling,
When the dew is falling.

O, where, where in the north, or where, where in the south,
where in the east, east or west, where,
O where, is she who hath the flowerwhite hands and the swandown breast.
O, If she be west, east, if or east she be, or in the north or south, east or west, north or south,
A sword will leap, a horse will prance, ere I win to honeymouth,
aa mm She has great eyes like the doe on the hill, and warm and sweet she is.
O come, come to me, honeymouth, O bend to me, honeymouth,
Give me thy kiss, give me thy kiss, give… me… thy…kisss!
White hands her name is, where she reigns amid the princes fair,
White hands she moves like swimming swans athrough her duskwave hair:
White hands she puts about my heart,
White hands fan up my breath,
White hands take out the heart of me, and grant me life, life or death, death!
White hands make better songs than hymns,
White hands are young and sweet,
O, a sword for me, O honeymouth, and a warhorse fleet.
Honeymouth, honeymouth,
O, wild, sweet, sweet eyes!
O glad wild eyes,
O mouth, how sweet it is!
O come, come to me, Honeymouth!
O bend to me, Honeymouth!
Give me thy kiss, give me thy kiss!
Give me thy ki… ssss

The Moonchild
A little lonely child am I
That have not any soul:
God made me but a homeless wave
Without a goal.
A seal my father was, a seal
That once was man,
My mother lov’d him though he was
’Neath mortal ban.
He took a wave and drownèd her,
She took a wave and lifted him:
And I was born where shadows are
In the seadepths dim.
All through the sunny bluesweet hours
I swim and glide in waters green;
Never by day the mournful shores
By me are seen.
But when the gloom is on the wave,
A shell unto the shore I bring:
And there upon the rocks
I sit and plaintive sing.
O what is this wild song I sing
With meanings strange and dim?
No soul am I, a wave am I,
And sing the Moonchild’s hymn.