work details

Awake Her Not

  • Instrumentation: SATB (divisi) and flute
  • Completed: January 2014
  • Duration: 4 minutes
  • Texts: "Dream Land" (1849) by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
  • Video:
    • Awake Her Not

      Dominick DiOrio "Awake Her Not"
      Craig Hella Johnson Choral Series
      For SATB and flute - purchase the score

  • Audio:
  • Published:

    G. Schirmer, Craig Hella Johnson Choral Series (click to purchase)

  • Program Note:

    Awake Her Not is a setting of Christina Rossetti’s poignant and evocative poem Dream Land. Her text is shiftily painted with dark and brooding images of shadows, stars, and sunless rivers. The centerpoint of the poem is the sad singing of the nightingale, which I underline in my setting by the characterful use of the flute. The chorus fills the role of storyteller, at times describing the nocturnal sleep scene, and at other times proclaiming strong commands: “awake her not”.

    This work is a companion piece to I Am, also commissioned by Jeremy Mims for his wonderful choirs at Whitman College. If performed together, I Amshould come first and move immediately into Awake Her Not without break. The subject matter of both works is synchronous, as each of the poems in turn deal with an onlooker’s response to sleep, dreams, and death.

    Both of these works are humbly dedicated to the Chorale and the Chamber Singers of Whitman College and their fine director, Jeremy Mims.

  • Text:

    Where sunless rivers weep
    Their waves into the deep,
    She sleeps a charmed sleep:
    Awake her not.
    Led by a single star,
    She came from very far
    To seek where shadows are
    Her pleasant lot.

    She left the rosy morn,
    She left the fields of corn,
    For twilight cold and lorn
    And water springs.
    Through sleep, as through a veil,
    She sees the sky look pale,
    And hears the nightingale
    That sadly sings.

    Rest, rest, a perfect rest
    Shed over brow and breast;
    Her face is toward the west,
    The purple land.
    She cannot see the grain
    Ripening on hill and plain;
    She cannot feel the rain
    Upon her hand.

    Rest, rest, for evermore
    Upon a mossy shore;
    Rest, rest at the heart's core
    Till time shall cease:
    Sleep that no pain shall wake;
    Night that no morn shall break
    Till joy shall overtake
    Her perfect peace.

  • Performances:
    • April 19, 2014 (premiere)
      Whitman College Music Department
      Whitman College Chorale
      Jeremy Mims, director 
      Whitman College - Walla Walla, WA
    • September 28, 2014
      Drew University Choral Music Intensive
      Jason Bishop, conductor
      Drew University Concert Hall - Madison, NJ
    • April 24, 2016
      Skidmore Community Chorus & Vocal Chamber Ensemble
      Katie Gardner, conductor
      Skidmore College - Zankel Concert Hall - Saratoga Springs, NY