I've been amazed and humbled by how quickly "A Weary Couple" has spread. A number of people have raised good questions about where the text ended. The conclusion was, admittedly, rather dark and difficult. Several folks suggested adding a stanza to provide some relief or hope. I have resisted that urge for several reasons. Most importantly, I did not want to diminish the validity of the suffering addressed in stanza two by offering too easy of a resolution immediately afterwards. My sense was that the questions should instead be answered by a bit of space, probably some silence, and further response in the form of another song or prayer. (Another reason to resist adding a third verse was mostly practical: LONDONDERRY AIR is really long, and could get tedious with that many repetitions!)
A note from composer Clay Zambo provided me with a new option. He wondered about including a four-line coda rather than a full new stanza. (Some settings of "O Danny Boy" repeat the last four lines of music in that way.) It occurred to me that writing another half-stanza would leave room for some sort of interlude, which would allow for the non-verbal response I felt that stanza two needed. In the score below I have suggested singing "Ooo" through those lines, but they could also be hummed or simply played instrumentally.
My sincere thanks to all who have engaged with this piece, and particularly to Clay, Rory Cooney, and Dominic Grant, who provided me with helpful insights and suggestions as I adapted it.
The text in its original or adapted form remains available for free use through January 10, 2016.
A weary couple lodged within a stable,
the only space where they could spend the night.
Were other trav'lers happy to be able
to keep her labor out of mind and sight?
But choirs of angels heard the mother's weeping,
and heaven rang with songs of peace on earth.
They went unheard by those in comfort sleeping,
for Jesus came among the outcasts at his birth.
An angel came to Joseph in his dreaming
and warned him so his family could flee.
As they escaped king Herod's evil scheming,
the son of God became a refugee.
How many children die without such warning?
How many mothers will not be consoled,
their voices choked with anger, tears, and mourning,
for songs unsung and stories never to be told?
Hum, “oo,” or instrumental interlude for four lines
But still the angels sing their hymn of “Glory”
beyond our fears that never seem to cease.
For Christ has come, and God's unfolding story
redeems the world to live in love, good will, and peace.
Adam M. L. Tice, November 19, 2015
©GIA Publications, Inc.
Permission is granted for free use through January 10, 2016. Churches or institutions with onelicense.net accounts should report any use.