A Burst of Song (3 mvts)


Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

NOW AVAILABLE FOR SATB!  (for audio, view YouTube imbed below)

Commissioned by the New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus in 2010 for their 20th Anniversary Season, "A Burst of Song" is a short three movement choral cycle with a middle movement that can serve as a "stand alone" piece.

1. A Shower of Mercy
2. A Kiss of Blessing
3. Thee and Me

I selected texts that celebrate the healing aspects of song, especially as many members of this community chorus had lived through the AIDS epidemic and experienced great loss. Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was first and foremost a poet. The texts for "A Burst of Song" are primarily from his most famous volume: Gitanjali: Song Offerings. I aimed to illuminate the poet's heartfelt beliefs about the grace and power of song. While exploring Tagore and selecting texts, I found: "To the birds you gave songs, the birds gave you songs in return. You gave me only voice, yet asked for more, and I sing." At this same time I also happened to be reading about French composer, organist and ornithologist Oliver Messiaen, and his use of birdsong. This happy coincidence inspired the opening notes sounded by the piano in  "A Shower of Mercy." This brief bird motif (descending minor 3rds) returns as transitional material in the last movement.


Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
Licensed PDF
SATB, mezzo-sop & tenor soli, piano 7:30 $4.00
JS-057 digital purchase only N/A
Licensed PDF
TTBB, piano 7:30 $4.00
JS-020 digital purchase only N/A
Licensed PDF
SSAA, piano 7:30 $4.00
JS-030 digital purchase only N/A


Joan Szymko

Year Composed: 


A Burst of Song

Rabindranath Tagore

A Burst of Song

No.1 A Shower of Mercy

When the heart is hard and parched up,

come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life,

come with a burst of song.

— excerpt from "Beggarly Heart" (Gitanjali)

No.2 A Kiss of Blessing

This song of mine will wind its music around you,

my child, like the fond arms of love.

This song of mine will touch your forehead

like a kiss of blessing.

My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams,

it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.

It will be like the faithful star overhead

when dark night is over your road.

My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes,

and will carry your sight into the heart of things.

And when my voice is silenced in death,

my song will speak in your living heart.

— "This Song of Mine" (The Crescent Moon #38)

No. 3 Thee and Me

The great pageant of thee and me has overspread the sky.

With the tune of thee and me all the air is vibrant,

and all ages pass with the hiding and seeking of thee and me.

— excerpt from "Maya" (Gitanjali)


Licensed PDF


"I love "Burst of Song." It's beauty was above and beyond my expectations when we commissioned it to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus. The three movements work wonderfully together to express the beautiful,poignant poetry of Tagore. I can't wait to perform it again!" — Steven Russell


A Burst of Song - Joan Szymko