Seal Lullaby



Perusal scores are downloadable and viewable but not printable.

Instrumentation: Unaccompanied SATB or SSAA chorus

Duration: ca. 3 minutes 30 seconds

Text: “Seal Lullaby” by Rudyard Kipling

Year composed: 2019

Place composed: Kansas City, Missouri

Dedication: This work is dedicated to my daughter, my own wee flipperling; she discovered this poem with me, and loved it just as much as I did.

Program Notes:
I first discovered Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Seal Lullaby” in a book of lullabies, night songs and poems that my daughter and I checked out of the library. We both fell in love with it immediately. I was captivated by the sound of the words as I read them out loud, and the alliteration was delightful — “weary wee flipperling” (my daughter’s favorite phrase in the poem), “asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas” (my favorite phrase). It was one of the most lyrical poems I had read in a long time, and I decided to set it to music, in versions for mixed chorus (SATB) and women’s chorus (SSAA).

The music is simple, as a lullaby should be, and shifts back and forth between the time signatures of 3/4 and 6/8 to imitate the long rolling waves. Many of the vocal lines imitate the gentle rocking of the “slow-swinging seas.” I divided the eight-line poem into two stanzas of four lines; each stanza has similar (but not identical) music, with a harmonic shift in the third line. In the first stanza, the harmonic shift takes us to a new key; in the second stanza, the shift brings us back home.

Seal Lullaby is dedicated to my daughter, my own wee flipperling.