Dona Nobis Pacem



penning poems:
War poems

setting words to music:
Dona Nobis Pacem.

Artistic genius, both
united inevitably in performance.
I sing through tears, their
requiem for fallen Father and Son.


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Trifecta Challenge Week 75: a thirty-three word “free-write” about anything.

Walt Whitman (American poet, essayist, humanist and journalist) wrote several realistic and dramatic, war-themed verses. Ralph Vaughan Williams (English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores) set several Whitman poems to music, including “Dona Nobis Pacem”: a cantata for soloists, orchestra and chorus. The music of Vaughan Williams is deeply moving and evocative. However, this piece especially touches my heart, adding unexpected dimension to Whitman’s eloquence.

I am privileged to be joining 200 fellow choristers in performing this work at the Berkshire Choral Festival on July 20. As I prepare this music, I’m blown away by the emotion conveyed through the words and music; wherein, the sadness and horror of war is set starkly and beautifully against a plaintively desperate prayer for peace.

“Dirge for Two Veterans” – the subject of this post – dramatizes a funeral march for a father and his son, who were killed in the same battle. I choke up each time I try to sing this

A utube link follows for those who would like to listen to this moving piece:

18 Comments on “Dona Nobis Pacem

  1. What a fabulous way to honor your “heroes”! Great post, Joanne!


  2. Just listened via Youtube……glorious! Simply glorious! I can see why it moves you so. 🙂


  3. Wow! Thank you for the Youtube link and congratulations on being asked to sing at such a prestegious festival. I always like to learn new things and, because of this piece, I have learned something special about three great artists: Whitman, Williams and you. 🙂


    • Yes he did. His poetry is graphic, descriptive and heartbreaking. When set to this music it is almost unbearable, but forces one to consider war and the tragedy of realizing that one’s enemy is a man “…divine like myself…” Thank you for your insightful comments.


  4. What a fabulous combination – Whitman and Vaugh Williams. I will have to give it a listen. A lovely homage to two geniuses.


  5. Wish I could come to the Festival and listen to you perform this. It’s a beautiful cantata, and your tribute to Whitman and Williams is lovely.


    • It will be lovely. The entire experience is life changing. We spend an entire week rehearsing every morning and every night in a prep school campus setting, living in plain dorm rooms, sans the noise and distraction of the external world, culminating in the Saturday night concert. I am blessed to be blue to participate and perform. Thanks for your comments.


    • Yes, I agree. When I was a little girl learning to sing masses in church and other.itrugical music, my mother told me that singing was praying twice. For example, The Lord’s Prayer spoken is indeed wonderful but singing the Malotte composition or hearing someone else sing it, brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.


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