The Heavenly Banquet 

      from Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs (1953)

I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house;

with vats of good cheer laid out for them.

I would like to have the three Marys, their fame is so great.

I would like people from every corner of Heaven. 

I would like them to be cheerful in their drinking.

I would like to have Jesus sitting here among them.

I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.

I would like to be watching Heaven's family

Drinking it through all eternity.


Text attributed to Saint Brigid, 10th Century

Program Notes

The Heavenly Banquet, performed on the Christ & Saint Stephen's Church Concert Series (NYC), was conceived in the spirit of Saint Brigid's words, as a musical cornocopia of style and genre, a "banquet" for the senses. As Saint Brigid, earnestly and irreverently, invites both divine and earthly beings to drink at her table, she hopes that they will remain always, delighting in each other's company Through an exploration of G.F. Handel's tragic heroine Lucrezia, the romantic duets of Robert Schumann, the quirky and poignant tales of Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs, and lively selections from Pauline Viardot's 12 Mazurkas, The Heavenly Banquet strives to conjure this communal space for creative expression and inclusive storytelling.

June 2015

New York City

Hermit Songs (1953)

i. At Saint Patrick's Purgatory

Pity me on my pilgrimage to Loch Derg!

O King of the churches and the bells

bewailing your sores and your wounds,

But not a tear can I squeeze from my eyes! 

Not moisten an eye after so much sin! 

Pity me, O King!

What shall I do with a heart that seeks only its own ease?

O only begotten Son by whom all men were made,

who shunned not the death by three wounds,

pity me on my pilgrimage to Loch Derg

and I with a heart not softer than a stone!


Anonymous Poet, 13th Century

The Heavenly Banquet


Noelle McMurtry soprano

Kevin Delaney, tenor

Jeffrey Grossman, harpsichord

Joseph Yungen, piano


Lucrezia, HWV 145                George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

i.     Récitativo: O Numi eterni!

ii.    Aria: Già superbo del mio affanno

iii.   Récitativo: Ma voi forse nel Cielo

iv.   Il suol che preme

v.    Récitativo: Ah! che ancor nell’abisso…

vi.   Aria: Alla salma infidel

vii.  Récitativo: A voi, a voi, padre, consorte…

viii. Arioso: Già nel seno comincia


Vier Duette, Op. 34                         Robert Schumann (1810-1856)  i.    Liebesgarten

ii.   Liebhabers Ständchen

iii.  Unterm Fenster

iv.  Familien-Gemälde


------ INTERMISSION -----


Hermit Songs                                          Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

i. At Saint Patrick’s Purgatory

ii. Church Bell At Night

iii. St. Ita’s Vision

iv. The Heavenly Banquet

v. The Crucifixion

vi. Sea-Snatch

vii. Promiscuity

viii. The Monk And His Cat

ix. The Praises Of God

x. The Desire For Hermitage


Selections from 12 Mazurkas*           Pauline Viardot (1821-1910)

Seize Ans


 *based on mazurkas by Fréderic Chopin (1810-1849)

viii. The Monk And His Cat

Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we are

Alone together,

Scholar and cat.

Each has his own work to do daily;

For you it is hunting, for me study.

Your shining eye watches the wall;

my feeble eye is fixed on a book.

You rejoice when your claws

Entrap a mouse;

I rejoice when my mind

Fathoms a problem.

Pleased with his own art,

Neither hinders the other;

Thus we live ever

Without tedium and envy.

Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we are

Alone together,

Scholar and cat.


Anonymous Poet, 8th or 9th Century