For a Breath of Ecstasy

For a Breath of Ecstasy is seven-movement work for chorus, strings, and oboe that is based on texts by Sara Teasdale. This major work for chorus, strings, and oboe features settings of the poetry of Sara Teasdale, commemorating the centennial of her winning the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her Love Songs, Northwestern State University commissioned this work

“tender harmonies and a palette of glowing vocal and instrumental colors” – Gramophone

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1. Wealth Enough For Me

I have no riches but my thoughts,
Yet these are wealth enough for me;
My thoughts of you are golden coins
Stamped in the mint of memory;

And I must spend them all in song,
For thoughts, as well as gold, must be
Left on the hither side of death
To gain their immortality.

2. Peace Flows into Me

Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It will not ebb like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies—
You are my deepening skies;
Give me your stars to hold.

3. Who Gave My Soul to Me

I gave my first love laughter,
I gave my second tears,
I gave my third love silence
Through all the years.

My first love gave me singing,
My second eyes to see,
But oh, it was my third love
Who gave my soul to me.

4. For You I Am Still

I sang my songs for the rest,
For you I am still;
The tree of my song is bare
On its shining hill.

For you came like a lordly wind,
And the leaves were whirled
Far as forgotten things
Past the rim of the world. 

The tree of my song stands bare
Against the blue —
I gave my songs to the rest,
Myself to you.

5. Spend All You Have on Loveliness

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be

6. And I For You

The moon is a curving flower of gold,
The sky is still and blue;
The moon was made for the sky to hold,
And I for you;

The moon is a flower without a stem,
The sky is luminous;
Eternity was made for them,
To-night for us.

7. Let Me Love

Until I lose my soul and lie
Blind to the beauty of the earth,
Deaf though shouting wind goes by,
Dumb in a storm of mirth;

Until my heart is quenched at length
And I have left the land of men,
Oh, let me love with all my strength
Careless if I am loved again.

Commissioned by Northwestern Louisiana State University
Nicholaus B. Cummins, Director of Choral Activities
Premiere Winter 2017.