To Mistress Margaret Hussey

SATB, a capella

This fresh and lilting melody portrays the 15th-century poet’s love song to his beloved, Mistress Margaret.

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Program Note

To Mistress Margaret Hussey, is a setting of the love poem by John Skelton (1460-1529) It is the first movement of the set, Three Medieval Lyrics, which was commissioned for Seattle Pro Musica, in celebration of the choir’s 20th anniversary. Three Medieval Lyrics was awarded second prize in “His Majestie’s Clerkes Choral Composition Competitio, and was a featured work for the National Endowment for the Arts “American Masterpieces” Choral Initiative in 2006 & 2007.

Notes on preparation and performance

The three movements may be performed as a set, or individually.

Text

Merry Margaret as midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon or hawk of the tower: 1
With solace and gladness, Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness;
So joyously, So maidenly, So womanly
Her demeaning in every thing, Far, far passing
That I can indite, Or suffice to write
Of Merry Margaret as midsummer flower,
Gentle as Falcon or hawk of the tower.
As patient and still And as full of good will
As fair Isaphill, 2     Coriander, 3
Sweet pomander, 4       Good Cassander, 5
Steadfast of thought, Well made, well wrought,
Far may be sought Ere that ye can find So courteous, so kind
As Merry Margaret, This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon or hawk of the tower.

1 Hawk trained to fly high (tower).
2 Hypsipyle, princess of Lemnos, savior of her father’s life, comforter of the Argives, mother of twins by Jason.
3 An aromatic herb.
4 A mixture of perfumed or aromatic substances made into a ball.
5 Cassandra, daughter of Priam and Hecuba. According to myth her beauty bedazzled Apollo, who conferred on her the gift of prophecy.

Reviews

“…a bright, engaging work…”         Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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