Samuel Barber composed this piece as part of his “Hermit Songs” in 1953. The text was written by an anonymous Irish monk, sometime between the 8th and 13th centuries. The English translation below is by Howard Mumford Jones.
I want to sing this someday. I want to hear this performed someday. The human truth of it is beautiful.
At the cry of the first bird
They began to crucify Thee, O Swan!
Never shall lament cease because of that.
It was like the parting of day from night.
Ah, sore was the suffering borne
By the body of Mary’s Son,
But sorer still to Him was the grief
Which for His sake
Came upon His Mother.