For Showing Truth
Duration (in minutes): 4'39;35'34;
Difficulty: Medium (college/community)
Publisher: Subito Music Corporation
“For Showing Truth” is a setting of John Keats’ poem “Written on the Day that Mr. Leigh Hunt Left Prison”. Leigh Hunt, a friend of Byron, Keats, and other Romantic poets, was an editor of The Examiner who spent two years in prison for criticizing the Prince Regent. While in jail, he continued to edit, to read, and to write. Keats’ angry poem points out that the jailing of Hunt for telling an unflattering truth could not silence his friend, who rose above his punishment by continuing to read and to think.
I chose to set this poem because it expressed poetically a subject relevant to today’s world (the early 1970s) – that of the jailing of individuals for voicing political opinions considered objectionable by the government. I further emphasized the centuries-old existence of this issue by quoting from the still-sung old German folk song, “Die Gedenken sind Frei” (“My Thoughts Are Free”), dating from shortly after the Protestant Reformation. This quotation is accompanied by a pitch pipe to suggest a folk-like quality in this otherwise a cappella piece. . At the time of this composition, I had just finished writing an article on Gesualdo. Hints of his vocal writing may be heard in this work.