Mother’s Choice (James McGranahan)

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  • (Posted 2023-11-15)  CPDL #77370:     
Editor: David Anderson (submitted 2023-11-15).   Score information: Letter, 16 pages, 661 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Mother’s Choice
Composer: James McGranahan
Lyricist: Mary Aurora Thompson
Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1878 John Church & Co.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

A mother sat, one summer eve, within her little room,
Her children hovered by her side amid the twilight gloom;
She tho’t an angel spake to her— “I’ve come,” she said, “to bear
A little lamb from out a flock, a birdling from thy care;
But first I give thee pow’r to choose with which thou first wouldst part,
Which little blossom of thy love thou’dst pluck from out thy heart.”

The mother gazed in grief and woe, “Oh, do not take,” she cried,
“The eldest born, the Rose that blooms so sweetly by my side;
She’s grave and thoughtful, faithful, kind, and true in word and deed,
So watchful o’er the younger ones, and mindful of their need;
Our home would he so desolate, and dark the sunniest day,
Were we to lose our little girl, our darling ELLEN MAY.

“Her little sister? No, no, no! within our household bower
She is the honeysuckle sweet, which gladdens ev’ry hour—
Lighthearted and affectionate, each wish and want is twined
With sweet content and love around her sister’s guiding mind;
At work or play, by night or day, apart they do not dwell;
’Twere cruel now to separate— oh, leave my CLARA BELL.

And yet I cannot spare my son, my brave, my only boy;
His father’s morning glory, and his mother’s evening joy!
He’s agile as a mountain deer, as reckless and as free,
And yet a warm and loving heart has little Wendell Lee;
His father’s heart would burst with grief, and mine be filled with woe,
Were we to let from out our home our merry prattler go.

Yet oh, I can not, dare not say that thou, my youngest pet,
My daisy, my sweet violet, my fragrant mignonette,
Art any less beloved by me because that love is brief,
Thou art to me what morning dew is to the summer leaf;
I can not bid thee take my bale, good Angel, hear my prayer;
I can not choose; then leave them all to bloom beneath my care.

The angel sadly turned away, but soon he came again,
And bore away the eldest flower; the mother’s tears were vain.
She laid her darling in the grave, and thought her heart would break,
And yet she blessed the holy Power which gave and could retake;
That He in wisdom did not add the deeper, heavier woe,
Of choosing which of those she loved should be the first to go.

Kate Woodland (Mary Aurora Thompson)