STLT#250, purer than purest

Remember how I said some of the music in Singing the Living Tradition was not for congregational singing?

Welcome to this beauty. Its complex lyric by E.E. Cummings, and its complex composition by Vincent Persichetti, make this an amazing piece for a soloist. Like the one from folk duo River’s Voice:

This is haunting and beautiful – capturing (as Cummings often does) the mystery of the moment:

purer than purest pure
whisper of whisper so,
so (big with innocence)
forgivingly a once of eager glory,
no more miracle may grow

childfully serious flower of holiness
a pilgrim from beyond,
beyond, beyond, the future,
immediate like new,
like some newly remembered dream

flaming a coolly bell touches most mere
until (eternally) with (now) with (now)
with luminous the shadow of love himself:
who’s we — nor can you die or i

and every world,
before silence begins a star.


I admit that before finding that video, I awkwardly plunked out this melody and wondered what Perischetti had done to us. But hearing the version above, I found myself connecting to it in an instinctive way and now can’t get it out of my head.

Again, this is a solo piece. I’m sure it’s been baffling to many over the years, but I am grateful we have it in our collection.

Almost makes me okay with this deep dive into Christmas music.


Painting by EE Cummings

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