Modern Classical Holiday Music

Here’s a selection of solstice-themed modern classical seasonal music found and submitted by Soror Hypatia to brighten the long, dark nights! Enjoy!

Mid-Winter Songs – Morton Lauridsen

The Mid-Winter Songs on poems by Robert Graves was commissioned by the University of Southern California on the occasion of its centennial in 1980. It is dedicated to the U.S.C. Chamber Singers, conducted by Rodney Eichenberger, who gave the premiere performance on March 20, 1981.

Upcoming performances include:

December 31, 2015, Calgary, Canada

March 3– 5 , 2016, Seattle, WA

And for the rest of us (celebrating Festivus!) you can listen at the comfort of your work station, on yr smartphone, etc.

  1. Lament for Pasiphaë

Dying sun, shine warm a little longer!
My eye, dazzled with tears, shall dazzle yours,
Conjuring you to shine and not to move.
You, sun, and I all afternoon have laboured
Beneath a dewless and oppressive cloud–
a fleece now gilded with our common grief
That this must be a night without a moon.
Dying sun, shine warm a little longer!

Faithless she was not: she was very woman,
Smiling with dire impartiality,
Sovereign, with heart unmatched, adored of men,
Until Spring’s cuckoo with bedraggled plumes
Tempted her pity and her truth betrayed.
Then she who shone for all resigned her being,
And this must be a night without a moon.
Dying sun, shine warm a little longer!


  1. Like Snow

She, then, like snow in a dark night,
Fell secretly. And the world waked
With dazzling of the drowsy eye,
So that some muttered ‘Too much light,”
And drew the curtains close.
Like snow, warmer than fingers feared,
And to soil friendly;
Holding the histories of the night
In yet unmelted tracks.


III. She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep

She tells her love while half asleep,

In the dark hours,

With half-words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep

And puts out grass and flowers

Despite the snow,

Despite the falling snow.


  1. Mid-Winter Waking

Stirring suddenly from long hibernation
I knew myself once more a poet
Guarded by timeless principalities
Against the worm of death, this hillside haunting,
And presently dared open both my eyes.

O gracious, lofty, shone against from under,
Back-of-the-mind-far clouds like towers;
And you, sudden warm airs that blow
Before the expected season of new blossom,
While sheep still gnaw at roots and lambless go–

Be witness that on waking, this mid-winter,
I found her hand in mine laid closely
Who shall watch out the Spring with me.
We stared in silence all around us
But found no winter anywhere to see.


  1. Intercession in Late October

How hard the year dies: no frost yet.
On drifts of yellow sand Midas reclines,
Fearless of moaning reed or sullen wave.
Firm and fragrant still the brambleberries.
On ivy-bloom butterflies wag.

Spare him a little longer, Crone,
For his clean hands and love-submissive heart.


Thanks to Soror Hypatia for the tip!

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

One Comment

  1. The score photo is actually from Lauridsen’s Madrigali – Six ‘Fire Songs’ on Italian Renaissance Poems, 1st movement: Ov’è, lass’, il bel viso? [Where, alas, is that lovely face?]. Also very good stuff. All the love poems are themed with fire and share a dissonant chord throughout. My favorite is Se per havervi, oime (‘If, alas, when I gave you my heart’). Lauridsen once remarked, ‘these settings are passionate, earthy, dramatic – red wine music’.

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