When You are Old
SATB | Duration c. 3'00"
Hewitt Hill Music
When You are Old is an intimate setting of the poem of the same name by William Butler Yeats, commissioned by the Mastersingers City of Palms Youth Choir and the Mastersingers Chamber Chorus of Fort Myers, FL, conducted by Matt Koller. In the past few years I have made several attempts to set this poem, each ending in frustration and ultimately leading to my shelving of the work. I feel that now, on the calmer side of my PhD, I was able to craft a version that truly suits the text – a simple setting that allows the beauty of the words themselves to guide the way. My gratitude goes to Matt and to both choirs involved in this commission for granting me the opportunity to finish what I started.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
- William Butler Yeats