The Choir Invisible

The Choir Invisible
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Price: $2.35
Product ID : SY694
Weight: 0.13 lbs
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16 pgs., 8.5" x 11"

The Choir Invisible, an anthem by Nicholas White, for SATB Choir (Divisi) and organ, is an invigorating musical setting of an inspiring poem by George Eliot (1819-1880).


George Eliot (1819-1880), the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans, is widely recognized as one of the most important writers of the nineteenth century; yet her two volumes of poetry are often ignored in modern critical assessments. Like so many of her contemporaries, Eliot tried to make significant literary contributions in more than one genre; her poems—both narrative and lyric—deal, however, with some of the same themes which inform her novels and short stories. Her poems are less accomplished than her prose fiction—only one poem, “O May I Join the Choir Invisible,” has achieved any lasting fame—but they do stand as an informative window on to her life as a writer.

O May I join the choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence: live
In pulses stirr’d to generosity,
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
For miserable aims that end with self,
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man’s search
To vaster issues.
So to live is heaven:
To make undying music in the world,
Breathing as beauteous order that controls
With growing sway the growing life of man.
So we inherit that sweet purity
For which we struggled, fail’d, and agoniz’d
With widening retrospect that bred despair.
Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued,
A vicious parent shaming still its child,
Poor anxious penitence, is quick dissolv’d;
Its discords, quench’d by meeting harmonies,
Die in the large and charitable air.
And all our rarer, better, truer self,
That sobb’d religiously in yearning song,
That watch’d to ease the burthen of the world,
Laboriously tracing what must be,
And what may yet be better,—saw within
A worthier image for the sanctuary,
And shap’d it forth before the multitude,
Divinely human, raising worship so
To higher reverence more mix’d with love,—
That better self shall live till human
Time Shall fold its eyelids, and the human sky
Be gather’d like a scroll within the tomb Unread forever.
This is life to come,
Which martyr’d men have made more glorious
For us who strive to follow. May I reach
That purest heaven, be to other souls
The cup of strength in some great agony,
Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love,
Beget the smiles that have no cruelty,
Be the sweet presence of a good diffus’d,
And in diffusion ever more intense!
So shall I join the choir invisible
Whose music is the gladness of the world.

About Nicholas White

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