Silent O Moyle

Music: Trad. arr. Mark Burstow. Words: Thomas Moore
performance time approx 2m 00s
Range T1: g – a'♭ / T2: g – e'♭ / B1: c – c' / B2: G – b♭
Price code: B
Complexity: **

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This beautiful Irish song compares the story of Fionnuala, daughter of Lir, lord of the sea, to the story of Ireland (Erin) itself. Just as Fionnuala was turned into a swan by her stepmother Aoife, and mourned her transformation while waiting for death to release her to heaven, so Erin languished in darkness, waiting for deliverance. Moyle (Sruth na Maoile) is the ancient Irish name given to the stormy straits that form the North Channel between the Antrim coast of Erin and Alban (Scotland).

The arranger adds: the music should be given plenty of time to ‘breathe’, especially at cadence points. Tenors can use a lighter mezza voce style in the high quiet moments and basses should concentrate on great warmth of tone. I haven't noted dynamics as I prefer not to be prescriptive about this — just let the music speak for itself, building crescendi and coming back down to a well supported piano as the shape of the music and the meaning of the words suggests.


Silent O Moyle be the roar of thy waters;
Break not ye breezes your chain of repose.
While murmuring mournfully, Lir's lonely daughter
Tells to the night star her tale of woe.
When shall the swan, her death note singing,
Sleep with wings in darkness furled?
When will Heav'n its sweet bell ringing
Call my spirit from this stormy world?

Sadly O Moyle, to thy winter wave weeping,
Fate bids me languish, long ages away.
Yet still in her darkness does Erin lie sleeping;
Still doth the pure light its dawning delay.
When will that day star, mildy springing,
Warm our Isle with peace and love?
When will Heav'n its sweet bell ringing
Call my spirit to the fields above?

Thomas Moore (1779–1852)

Purchase – 2024: Silent O Moyle

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