Vocal Music

Jack Moeran was a prolific writer, collector and arranger of vocal music, almost entirely in the song form. It is a seam which cuts through the middle of his entire life's output, from the early 1920's to the very last year of his life. Of the 97 published works listed in Geoffrey Self's book "The Music of E. J. Moeran" no less than 63 are vocal works, many of which are collections or cycles of several individual songs.

Unlike the instrumental music, much of which has been recorded and can be bought, vast tracts of Moeran's vocal music are unavailable at a store near you today. Yet I would imagine that more people are exposed to Moeran's vocal music, through choirs and amateur singing, than have ever listened to the rest of his output.

 

Folk Song

Moeran Lyrics etc.


Lyrics and texts used by Moeran can be found here:

The Lieds and Songs Text Page

An extensive British song site can be found here:

British Song Fa-la-la

Moeran began collecting folk songs whilst still at school at Uppingham. It was a passion which was to endure to the very end of his life, even taking in the Spring of 1948, which he spent living amongst the tents of a group of tinkers in south-west Ireland, prior to completing his Songs From County Kerry, a collection that had begun in 1934.

By 1926 Peter Warlock suggested Moeran had already collected at least 150 songs - a collection of seventeen were published in The Folk Song Journal in 1922, notated simply with the tune and words. Of these, six were to form his Six Folksongs From Norfolk, published with piano accompaniment in 1924. Another such collection came from Suffolk in 1932.

Moeran had an instinctive ear for folk melodies, and much of his instrumental music appears to be shot through with tunes one might imagine he collected in the pubs and inns of rural England and Ireland. Yet in truth Moeran was able to turn his natural melodic gifts to creating new folk-like melodies which would sit easily alongside the best of his collections, and these collected songs rarely appeared outside of his specific folk song arrangements.

See also Moeran's article "Folk Songs and some Traditional Singers in East Anglia" (1946) and Peter Warlock's article "E J Moeran" (1924)

 

Original works for voices

In addition to his folk song arrangements, Moeran wrote a large number of original vocal works, setting the words of several great poets, including, in particular, A. E. Housman, Shakespeare, James Joyce and Seamus O'Sullivan. His two major works for unaccompanied chorus, Songs of Springtime (1930) and Phyllida and Corydon (1939) both take a series of Elizabethan poems from a variety of writers, yet brings them together in quite different styles - the earlier work full of the Delian harmonies of Moeran's earlier output, the later written in the style of the Elizabethan madrigal, albeit reinterpreted with a truly modern sense of chromaticism.

Another important work, neglected more for difficulty in staging than for lack of musical merit is the Nocturne Moeran wrote following the death of Delius in 1934. This beautiful work, for baritone, chorus and orchestra, lasting around fifteen minutes, is, in the words of Geoffrey Self, "less that or a choral work than of an orchestral tone poem which chorus obbligato; much of the chorus, indeed, is wordless". Self suggested it a piece more suited to recording than live performance - perhaps Chandos picked up on this comment when they recorded it in 1990.

 

Church Music

Moeran wrote a small amount of music for the church. Despite his father, grandfather and brother entering the Anglican priesthood, Jack Moeran was no believer, and described his religious output as "this tripe for the church". It is therefore interesting to note that three of his four published works for the church came out in the same year, 1931 - a time when Moeran was a little strapped for cash. Geoffrey Self suggests Moeran would have seen this as a potentially lucrative market, yet it was one he would only return to one more time. Moeran's opinion of his church music may not have been high, but they were well received and still performed now. A long search may track down recordings of both the Te Deum and Jubilate, (The Choir of Norwich Cathedral on Priory Records) and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (The Choir of St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Priory Records) - or you can order direct from their website.

 

 

©2011 The Worldwide Moeran Database

Key
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= Additional notes available


Spring goeth all in white (1920) R8
Twilight (1920) R7
Ludlow Town (1920) R9
The Day of Psalms (1922) R18
When June is Come (1922) R19
Two Songs (1923) R24
Two Songs from the Repertoire of John Goss (1924) R29
The Merry Month of May (1925) R38
Come Away, Death (1925) R39
A Dream of Death (1925) R40
In Youth is Pleasure (1925) R41
Troll the Bowl (1925) R42
'Tis time, I Think, by Wenlock Town (1925) R43
Far in a Western Brookland (1925) R44
Seven Poems of James Joyce (1929) R51
Rosefrail (1929) R52
The Sweet O' the Year (1931) R61
Loveliest of Trees (1931) R62
Blue Eyed Spring (1931) R63
Tilly (?) R105
Four English Lyrics (1934) R69
Diaphenia (1937) R72
Rosaline (1937) R73
Four Shakespeare Songs (1940) R76
Invitation in Autumn (1944) R84
Six Poems of Seamus O'Sullivan (1944) R85
Rahoon (1947) R93
O Fair Enough are Sky and Plain (?) R100


I - Voice & Piano
Six Folksongs from Norfolk (1923) R23
The Sailor and Young Nancy (1924) R30
Gaol Song (1924) R31
The Little Milkmaid (1925) R45
O Sweet Fa's the Eve (1925) R46
Six Suffolk Folksongs (1931) R60
Parson and Clerk (1947) R93
Songs from County Kerry (1950) R97

II - SATB Chorus
O Sweet Fa's the Eve (?) R101
The Sailor and Young Nancy (1948-9) R97
The Jolly Carter (1944) R86

III - Vocal Trio
I'm Weary, Yes Mother Darling (1946) R91

IV - Male Voices
Sheepshearing (?) R102
Alsatian Carol (1932) R65


Under the Broom (1924) R32
Commendation of Music (1924) R33
Christmas Day in the Morning (1924) R34
The Jolly Carter (1924) R35
Maltworms (1926) R48


Green Fire (?) R106
The Echoing Green (1933) R68
Weep You No More, Sad Fountains (1934) R20a
The Lover and his Lass (?) R102


To Blossoms (?) R107


Moeran's Church Music

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (1930) R55
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem (1930) R56
Te Deum and Jubilate (1930) R57
Blessed are Those Servants (1938) R74


Unaccompanied Chorus
I - SATB

Weep You No More, Sad Fountains (1922) R20
Gather ye Rosebuds (1922) R21
Robin Hood Borne on his Bier (1923) R25
Songs of Springtime (1930) R54
Phyllida and Corydon (1939) R75

II - Mixed Chorus with Male Voice or Semi-Chorus
Blue Eyed Spring (1931) R63

Male Voices
Ivy and Holly (1932) R66
Candlemas Eve (1949) R96

Chorus and Orchestra
Nocturne (1934) R70