Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight

Instrumentation/Voicing: 
TTBB chorus, snare drum, piano

Commissioned for Minnesota All-State Men's Chorus, this text begins, "Would I might rouse the Lincoln in you all!" (Vachel Lindsay) before launching into the title poem.

Audio: 

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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
AB-061-01
Duration: 
4:45
Commissioned By: 
MN-ACDA & MN Music Educators Association
Premiere
Premiere Date: 
08/08/2009
Premiere Ensemble: 
Minnesota All-State Men's Chorus
Premiere Conductor: 
David Mennicke
See video
Text
Text Author or Source: 
Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) (modified AB)
Language: 
English
Text: 

IT is portentous, and a thing of state
That here at midnight, in our little town
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
Near the old court-house pacing up and down,

Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards
He lingers where his children used to play,
Or through the market, on the well-worn stones
He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.

A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,
A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl [...]

He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.
He is among us: -- as in times before!
And we who toss and lie awake for long,
Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.

His head is bowed. He thinks of men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many fight, [...]
[Too many] weep.

The sins of war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn
Shall come; -- the shining hope of [people] free:
A league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth,
Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.

It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,
That all his hours of travail [...]
Seem yet in vain. And who will bring [sweet] peace
That he may sleep upon his hill again?

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"Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight" by Vachel Lindsay with
edits and modifications by the composer. Public domain.